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Smithsonian Institution 


Alexander Wetmore 

1 c) 4 6 Sixth Secretary 1955 




X/)frtyC^ V fi^L.-^-^yLc^.^^ ^^»r^^,.^.„^ 

Photograph by Folk, November, 1907. 



A Personal Record of Forty-six Years 

Tracy Robinson 


/ fD>->.^ '•-•'X^ 





Copyright, 1907, by Tracy Robinson 
united states and panama 



To the Memory of 

''Other voices— well-loved voices, that have died: 



Panama Before 1850 — Early History of the Panania 
Railroad Enterprise — Its Pioneers — Selection of 
an Atlantic Terminus — Porto Bello, Otro Lado, 
and Manzanillo Island — ^The Latter Wins the 
Day — ^The Engineers — Early Trials ... 1 


The Location of the Track — Crowds of Gold Seekers 
en route for California — Estimates of Cost too low 
— Scarcity of Labor — The Chinese — Overesti- 
mated Mortality — Timely Arrival of Steamers 
Georgia and Philadelj)Ma — Death of John L. 
Stephens — ^W. C. Young appointed President — 
Soon Succeeded by David Hoadley — A. J. Cen- 
ter Becomes Superintendent — Completion of the 
Road, January 27, 1855 , , . . .12 


The Completed Road — ^Would it Pay ? — Superintend- 
ency of A. J. Center — Colonel Totten Remains 
Chief Engineer — Other Officers Under the First 



Organization — First Tariff of Charges — Pros- 
perity Assured — Revenue Rolls in on Wheels — 
Patriarchal Style of Management — Good Times 21 


The Voyage Out — Different Steamship Lines — 
Personnel of the Road in December, 1861 — 
Sketches of Colonel Totten and Others — Colonel 
Totten's Death and Resurrection — The Great 
Spider — Lack of Enterprise 31 


Increase of the Capital Stock of the Road — Dividends 
of Twenty-four Per Cent per Annum — Fatal 
Defect in the Contract with Colombia — Com- 
mission Sent to Bogota — A New Contract Made 
— A White Elephant — Heavy Burdens Imposed 
— Great Tumble in Price of Shares — Breakers 
Ahead 41 


Clouds— The Pacific Overland Roads— Effort of 
Colonel Center and Mr. George Petrie to Retain 
the South Pacific Trade Ends in Failure — The 
Panama and Australian Line also Fails — Straits 
Line of New Steamers Established, and a Large 



Traffic Forever Lost to the Road — Short-sighted 
Policy 47 


Rapid Development of the Central American Trade — 
Its Importance to the Isthmian Transit — Con- 
nection of William Nelson Therewith — Immense 
Increase in Coffee Production — Central Line of 
Steamers — Its Transfer to the Pacific Mail Com- 
pany — The Atlantic Service also in that Com- 
pany's Hands — Some of the Old Vanderbilt 
Captains — Capture of the Ariel by the Alabama 
— Burning of the Bienville — Captain Jefferson 
Maury 62 


Loss of Steamship Golden Rule on the Roncador 
Reef — Rescue of Her Passengers, Officers, and 
Crew by U. S. Steamers State of Georgia and 
Huntsville — Victor Smith — Loss of Steamer 
Central America, Captain Herndon — " Old Gar- 
ry" — ^Wreck of Steamer Avon in the Great 
Norther of 1862 — Loss of Other Steamers of the 
Royal Mail and Liverpool Lines — Fearful Ex- 
plosion on Steamer European in 1866 ... 74 


Naming of Aspinwall in Honor of a Prominent Foun- 
der — Refusal of Colombia to Accept the Name 



— Colon Insisted on — United States Government 
Brought into Line in the Matter of Consular 
Appointments — Confusion Caused by the Double 
Name, Colon-Aspinwall — A Wreck the Result 
Thereof — Landing of the First Cable — Bronze 
Statue of Columbus 87 


First Trip Home — Happy Reminiscences of Many 
Voyages and Captains — Beautiful Sunset and a 
Cyclone — War Ships and Some of their Com- 
manders — Admiral Preble — News of Lincoln's 
Assassination — Commander Cushing and Ad- 
miral Almy ... . . . . .95 


Resignation of David Hoadley and Election of Joseph 
F. Joy as President of the Railroad Company — 
The Brig Line — ^The Year 1868 and Subsequent 
Falling Off— Presidents Alden B. Stockwell, 
Russell Sage, Trenor W, Park, J. G. McCullough, 
John Newton, and J. Edward Simmons — Shoot- 
ing of William Parker by James L. Baldwin . 107 


Return of Colonel Center — Retrenchment — Excur- 
sions — Search for Rebel Coal — General Daniel E. 
Sickles at the Bayano Plantation — Amusements — 



The Lion and the Goat— Ball on Board H.B.M. 
Ship Reindeer — The Ice-House — The Steamer 
Virginius and Captain Frank Bowen . . .117 


Russell Sage, President, and Rufus Hatch, Mismana- 
ger of the Railroad — Colonel Center Dismissed 
with Scant Ceremony — His Death — ^Two Years 
of Misrule — Trenor W. Park and Brandon 
Mozley to the Rescue — H. A. Woods — Great 
Flood in the Chagres— The $50,000 Gold Rob- 
bery at Panama . . . , . . . 130 


Canal Times — Arrival of M. de Lesseps — Reception 
and Dinner — Madame de Lesseps — Reasons for 
the Failure of the Canal — Second Visit of M. de 
Lesseps— His Remarkable Vitality^ — Explosion 
that Failed to Explode— "The Canal Will be 
Made" 138 


The American Contracting and Dredging Company — 
The Slaven Brothers — Captain Clapp and the 
Dredges — Crawford Douglas, Nathan Crowell, 

Eugene Kelly, and Others 150 




Sale of the Shares of the Panama Railroad Company 
to the Universal Interoceanic Canal Company — 
The Deal Engineered by Trenor W. Park — J. J. 
Iribe Succeeds Mr. Woods as Superintendent, 
and is succeeded by G. A. Burt — The Great 
Prestan Fire of March 31, 1885 — Captain Kane 
of the Galena — Protection that Failed to Protect 
— ^Who is Responsible? 159 


Historical Interest of the Isthmus — Estimated Popu- 
lation at Time of Discovery — Prehistoric Re- 
mains — Vasco Nunez de Balboa — Francisco 
Pizarro — Destruction of Panama Viejo by Mor- 
gan — Three Hundred Years of Spanish Rule — 
Geographical Importance of the Isthmus — Area 
and Population — Recent Explorations — Central 
Position 171 


Political Affairs — Isthmian Chief Magistrates — Some 
Personal Remarks — Transit Tonnage — Com- 
merce and Agriculture of the Isthmus — Depres- 
sion of the One and Almost Entire Absence of the 
Other — The Banana Trade: Its Beginning and 
Development at Colon and Bocas del Toro — 
Other Shipments, Timber, Cocoanut, etc. . .185 



Diplomatic and Consular Officers of the United States 
— General Stephen A. Hurlbut and His Canal 
Treaty — British Ministers and Consuls — A Civil 
Service Contrast 202 


Some Personals: the Tichborne Claimant — Sam 
Ward — Edwin Forrest — The Menken — Queen 
Emma of Hawaii — Sarah Bernhardt — Edward 
Whymper — E. D. Keyes — Captain Pim — E. G. 
Squier — Fred Hassaurek — ^W. H. Hurlbut — Ar- 
temus Ward — J. Ross Browne — Louis Agassiz — 
S. L. Clemens— E. C. Stedman . . . .211 


Catholic Priesthood and Protestant Preachers — 
Religious Toleration — The Two Protestant 
Churches of Colon — Visit of Bishop Alonzo 
Potter — His Death — Morals and Social Rela- 
tions of the Community — Climate, Rainfall, Tem- 
perature, Health, etc . 228 


Domestic Life — Servants — Food Supplies — Fruits — 
Vegetables — Flowers — Insects — Animals — And 

a Bird's Obituary 242 




Isthmian Journalism — The Panama Star and the 
Panama Herald Combined in the Star and Herald 
— Archibald Boardman Boyd and His Brother 
James — The Writer's Editorship, in Connection 
with Don J. Luciano Duque — The Colon Tele- 
gram and Colon Starlet — Isthmian Literature — 
James Stanley Gilbert — General Remarks on the 
Future of the Tropics, with Some Quotations — 
The Tropics to Become the Garden of the World 253 

A Brief Review 268 

Appendix 272 




1. Portrait — Tracy Robinson . . Frontispiece ^""SSe 

2. Bronze of Columbus and Indian Girl ... 1 

3. Panama Cathedral, Ancon Hill in the Rear . 13 

4. Native Dwelling, Canal Zone, Panama . . 20 

5. Mother and Daughters in Native Dress . . 28 

6. Entrance to Ancon Hospital, Canal Zone . . 40 

7. Black Boys Climbing Cocoanut Tree ... 46 

8. On the French Canal near Colon .... 63 

9. Slaven Dredges at Anchor . . . . .75 

10. View on the Chagres River 86 

11. Harbor View, Colon, In French Canal Times . 94 

12. Banana Day 106 

13. Street Scene, Colon ....... 116 

14. Ninth Street, Colon, in 1906 ..... 131 

15. De Lesseps and Family ...... 139 

16. Slaven Dredge at Work 151 

17. Tenth Street, Colon, 1806 158 

18. Panama Houris 170 

19. Tower of San Jerome, Old Panama , . .184 

20. Ruins of Santo Domingo Church, Panama . . 203 

21. Culebra Cut as the French Left It . . . 210 

22. Going to School, Colon, 1906 . . . .229 

23. Front Street, Colon, Before 1885 . . . .243 

24. Sea-Beach, Cristobal, Canal Zone .... 252 

25. Inauguration of President Amador . . . 269 

26. Lesseps Villa, Cristobal, Canal Zone . . . 273 







OIXTY years ago the city of Panama was 
^ more difficult to reach than Tibet is to- 
day. The only means of communication, after 
the rule of Spain had ended, and the paved road 
across the Isthmus, from Porto Bello on the 
Atlantic, had become a ruin, was either by sea 
or, as far as boats could go, by the Rio Chagres, 
and thence on muleback. 

The once proud city had fallen into a state 
of apathy. It had no foreign commerce, and 
very little domestic trade. A few members of 
some of the leading families of Spanish ancestry 
were sent abroad to be educated; but for the 
most part, poverty or indifference or both kept 
the inhabitants captive within their picturesque 
old walls. Dullness held them in a summer 
snare of contented ignorance. Men were sent 
up the crumbling towers of the old churches, 
with stones in their hands, to pound religiously 
upon the broken bells still suspended there, and 



make a daily jangle in the name of God, while 
women in black lace mantillas went with their 
plentiful children to prayers. Life had slowed 
down to a snail's pace. There were no news- 
papers, no regular mails, no libraries, no public 
spirit or ambition in this old city so superbly 
situated at the joining of the continents, this 
natural gateway to and from the Pacific. 

In such circumstances the need of modern 
means of communication across the Isthmus had 
been felt before the discovery of gold in Cali- 
fornia. With a business foresight akin to in- 
spiration, certain enterprising New Yorkers, 
perceiving the great possibilities in an Isthmian 
rapid transit, began to take measures for estab- 
lishing one. At first a tramway or horse-car 
road was thought of; but as early as 1848, W. 
H. Aspinwall, Henry Chauncey, and John L. 
Stephens had petitioned the government of 
New Granada, afterwards Colombia, for a con- 
cession under which they and their associates 
might open a railway, one terminus of which 
should be at the ancient city of Panama. 

Nor had they asked in vain. Yet it was not 
until 1850 that John L. Stephens, already a 
well-known author, traveler, and citizen of the 
world, was sent to Bogota as the missionary 
of the doubtful enterprise, and brought back 


Chapter I] 

a concession for building and operating the 
Panama Railroad, dated April 15th of that 
year, and signed by the Secretary of State of 
New Granada, Don Victoriano de Diego Pa- 
redes, and himself. It was considered a hazard- 
ous undertaking on the part of the contracting 
parties, but they were stout of heart and fully 
determined to carry the scheme through. 

A considerable time was then unavoidably 
taken up with the preliminaries of organization, 
subscriptions to funds for the work, surveys, 
and especially the location of an Atlantic ter- 

At first it was thought that Porto Bello 
would be the best place. That beautiful and 
perfectly land-locked harbor, only twenty miles 
to the eastward of the present Colon, had been 
famous in old days as the one from which had 
sailed the treasure-laden galleons of Spain — the 
port through which, in a great golden stream, 
had poured the riches of the Pacific shores. It 
had been discovered and named by Columbus 
on the 2d of November, 1502. A paved road, 
made at enormous cost, had connected it with 
the city of Panama, fifty miles away, across the 
summits of the baby Andes. Proud Spain had 
fortified it with a cordon of batteries, the mold- 
ering remains of which may still be seen, from 



one side of the narrow entrance all the way 
around to the other, like shark's teeth. There 
was, and is, deep water close alongside the 
rocky shores, so that large ships could come 
to land without the expense of wharves, while 
streams of fresh water, at all seasons of the 
year, flow down from the lovely encircling hills. 
It seemed the ideal place for the beginning of 
the projected railroad. The cost of construc- 
tion could not greatly exceed that of any other 
route, while the comparative advantages were 
greatly in its favor. Into so snug a harbor the 
disastrous northers which at intervals vex the 
coast could never intrude, while the surround- 
ing heights would afford salubrious and delight- 
ful homes. And more than all, here was a town 
long established and ready, with some repairs, 
for immediate use. 

Then why, it will be asked, was this Beau- 
tiful Port, as its name indicates, not selected for 
the Atlantic terminus? 

If tradition may be trusted, the late Mr. 
George Law, of New York, could have an- 
swered that question. He bought all the sur- 
rounding lands and held them for a rise. For 
many years an ancient warrior named Colonel 
Zwingle, who had been with Walker in Nica- 
ragua, and his good wife, were employed by 


Chapter I] 

Mr. Law as keepers and lived in great comfort 
on the estate. Upon my first visit to Porto 
Bello, soon after arrival on the Isthmus, I had 
the pleasure of making the acquaintance of 
this nineteenth-century Adam and Eve, in their 
lonely hillside cottage beneath the palms. I 
talked with them upon their vine-embowered 
veranda, overlooking the harbor, set like a gem 
in tropical luxuriance, the scene of Stedman's 
spirited poem, " Morgan the Buccaneer," as 
well as of many another historic deed of blood. 

This old pair afterwards departed for Cali- 
fornia, leaving their small Eden to be soon lost 
in the lonely magnificence of the jungle. 

The price of the land at Porto Bello had been 
more than the infant company thought it could 
afford to pay; and as no arrangement could be 
arrived at, an effort was then made to secure 
the location of the starting point at the foot of 
the hills which form the coast of Otro Lado 
(Other Side), as the shore of Navy Bay, op- 
posite the present town of Colon, is called. 

Among the warm local friends of the rail- 
road enterprise who were strongly in favor of 
that site, was the late Mr. de Sabla, prominent 
at Panama in those days. He and others 
claimed that by making the terminus there, at 
or near what is now called Keeny's Bluff, and 



by taking the track thence, out around the head 
of the Bay to the Rio Mindi, results better in 
every way would be secured than by starting 
from the wretched mangrove swamps along the 
eastern margin thereof. There were the advan- 
tages of high land and fresh water on one 
side, against the malarial lair of land crabs and 
alligators on the other. So decided were the 
views of those gentlemen, that when at last they 
were overruled, and the Island of Manzanillo 
determined upon as the Atlantic terminus, they 
withdrew from all further connection with, or 
friendly interest in the enterprise. And in fact, 
at this distance, it seems strange indeed that 
the present site of Colon should have received 
the preference, unless it was solely on account 
of the greater depth of water along the coral 
reefs which guard the shores of the island. 

It was decided by the engineers in charge 
that work should be commenced at or near the 
point where now stands the Panama Railroad 
lighthouse at Colon. 

In regard to the beginning there is conflict- 
ing testimony. According to Dr. F. N. Otis, 
in his " Hand-book of the Panama Railroad," 
now out of print, Messrs. Trautwine and Bald- 
win struck the first blow. 

He says : " No imposing ceremony inaugu- 


Chapter I] 

rated breaking the ground. Two American 
citizens, leaping, ax in hand, from a native 
canoe upon a wild and desolate island, their 
retinue consisting of half a dozen Indians, who 
clear the path with rude knives, strike their 
glittering axes into the nearest tree: the rapid 
blows reverberate from shore to shore, and the 
stately cocoa crashes upon the beach." And he 
adds: "Thus unostentatiously was announced 
the commencement of a railway, which, from 
the interests and difficulties involved, might well 
be looked upon as one of the grandest and 
boldest enterprises ever attempted." This was 
in May, 1850. 

On the other hand, I quote the following, 
from a highly interesting letter addressed to me 
by Captain John Jay Williams, C.E., dated at 
Jackson, Tennessee, February 25, 1897: "I 
also set the first stake, indicating the beginning 
of the railroad at Aspinwall, now Colon, in the 
winter of 1849, now forty-eight years ago, when 
the country around that place was a perfect 
wilderness. I was then thirty-one years old." 

Captain Williams says, farther on : "A num- 
ber of Colonel Hughes's Engineering Party, in- 
cluding myself, with some of the citizens, went 
from the mouth of the Chagres River, or rather 
from Fort San Lorenzo, in the little steamer 



Orus, to Aspinwall, with Colonel Hughes in 
charge, for the express purpose of fixing the 
point for the commencement of the line of sur- 
vey. After we had studied the ground over, I 
had a large stake driven, showing the beginning 
point of the railroad." Captain Williams, now 
dead, was doubtless the only surviving member 
of that remarkable company at the date of the 
above letter. He was a man of high character, 
and his statements are deserving of credit. 

However it may have been in regard to the 
first blow, the historic fact remains that the 
work was actually begun in May, 1850, as 
stated, and from that date until its completion 
was pushed forward with all possible energy. 

Colonel G. M. Totten, C.E., had been con- 
tractor for an unsuccessful enterprise known as 
El Dique, the object of which was to connect 
by canal the city of Cartagena with the Mag- 
dalena River at Calamar. He had therefore 
been for some time in the country, and knew 
something of its people and their language. 
He was selected as chief engineer of the pro- 
jected railroad; while associated with him were 
Messrs. John C. Trautwine, James L. Bald- 
win, J. J. Williams, and others, as assistants. 
They were all in the prime of life, the eldest 
not more than forty or forty-five years, and 


Chapter I] 

were men of ability and action. They collected 
a few native laborers and made the attack. 
There was not the least sign of human life, 
civilized or savage, on the island of Manzanillo; 
nor was there a space of dry land upon which to 
set foot, except the narrow ridge of coral sand 
that had been washed up by the surf along the 
reef. In front, the sea ; behind, the malarial, im- 
memorial swamp. But they set to work to clear 
away a space for the purpose of erecting a build- 
ing to shelter themselves, their followers, and 
their supplies from sun and rain. 

Colonel George W. Hughes was a distin- 
guished engineer of the United States Army, 
who had been detailed, at the request of Messrs. 
Aspinwall and Stephens, to make a general sur- 
vey of the proposed route; and J. J. Williams 
was his able assistant. The report of Colonel 
Hughes is still extant, in which is shown the vast 
prospective importance of the railroad across the 

Captain Williams, in the letter already re- 
ferred to, says: "I made the reconnaissance of 
the entire Panama Railroad, between the two 
oceans, and found the lowest pass in the moun- 
tain divide, through which the road now runs; 
and of which Colonel Hughes gave me full 



Thus there remains no doubt of the great im- 
portance of the services rendered by Captain 
WilHams; which it does not appear that Dr. 
Otis, in his hand-book, recognized. But to re- 
turn to the brave and hardy company of en- 
gineers and their assistants, camped on the 
ridge of sand. They had a schooner of 200 
tons, upon M^hich they had arrived, and on 
which they hved for the first few months. Even 
after the first house was completed it was 
found impossible to occupy it, on account of the 
swarms of mosquitoes, sand flies, and other nox- 
ious insects which invaded it; while on board the 
vessel the men were tormented with myriads of 
cockroaches, which rendered life a burden. 

Among the engineers' assistants was Mr. 
Charles F. Lee, a young American whom I 
knew very well in later years, when he held the 
position of conductor on the road. He has long 
since passed away. From him I learned some- 
thing of the trials that were undergone in those 
days. Sickness was seldom absent from the 
camp, while death was a too frequent visitor. 
No one escaped the calentura^ as the jungle 
fever is called. In a little time the white mem- 
bers of the party wore the pale hue of ghosts; 
and even the dusky natives grew many shades 
lighter than their natural bronze. 


Chapter Z] 

Under these untoward circumstances, at the 
beginning of the long rainy season, of which 
no one of the company, except the natives, had 
any practical knowledge, was commenced the 
battle with tropical nature that was to end in 
triumph five weary years later. 




PRELIMINARY surveys had been made, 
"*■ and a summit level determined. But lines 
had to be run, and the entire track located. This 
arduous duty was assigned to Mr. Baldwin, the 
youngest of the staiF. He organized a small 
party, and made the bold plunge. For a long 
distance they were obliged to wade in water 
waist deep, and to hew their way through the 
dense jungle. 

After the first two miles the low hills were 
reached where the cemeteries are now situated. 
This was the first foothold on solid ground; but 
just beyond, another swamp was encountered, 
across which Baldwin led his men, waist deep, 
as before. 

It is said that this intrepid man carried his 
noonday luncheon in his hat, during the prog- 
ress of that part of the survey, and ate it 
standing, amid the envious alligators and water 
snakes. Be that as it may, it is doubtful if a 
more daring feat of engineering has been per- 
formed. Think of it! day after scorching day, 


Chapter IIl^ 

shut in by impenetrable growth of jungle, each 
weary foot of which must be cut down before any 
advance could be made, breathing air laden with 
poison, and tormented by millions of insects! 
The wonder is that any man could have had 
such courage and endurance. But this was, as 
sometimes happens, the man for the occasion. 
On a later page an estimate of him will be at- 
tempted, when his sad end will be told. 

The work was carried on with the utmost zeal, 
until the whole line had been located, and the 
grading for the track begun. 

As early as 1849 crowds of gold seekers, 
bound for California, had begun to cross the Isth- 
mus, by the Chagres as far as either Gorgona or 
Cruces, and thence by mule road to Panama. 
The need of the railroad became each day more 
pressing, and the company made every effort to 
push the work to completion. Contracts were 
made, embracing the whole line, and high hopes 
were entertained that in two years at most, from 
May, 1850, trains would be running from sea 
to sea. Two years, or possibly three, and 
steam cars would take the place of river bungoes 
and pack mules. 

But the cost had not been accurately counted. 
Not money alone was needed. That could 
doubtless have been found, although it came 



early to light that the estimates had been far 
too low. Total lack of experience had led 
the engineers to place the expenses at rates 
corresponding with those of similar work else- 
where. This proved to be a tremendous mis- 
take. The cost of labor alone, and the diffi- 
culties in the way of obtaining it, soon swamped 
the contractors, everyone; and within two years 
the whole work came to a standstill. 

But the directors, though disheartened, were 
not dismayed. The company could do no less 
than release the bankrupt contractors, and un- 
dertake the work on its own account. This was 
done. Colonel Totten was yet at the head of 
the engineers. Mr. Trautwine and Captain 
Williams soon withdrew, leaving Mr. Baldwin 
at the fore, next in command to Colonel Totten ; 
in which position he showed phenomenal zeal, 
intelligence, and endurance. 

Other names to be remembered among those 
who gave faithful service were Charles F. Lee, 
already mentioned; Perez Turner, C.E., John 
Wilson, Dr. Guyon, Tom Sharp, and William 
Thompson; all of whom lived to see the road 
completed, and to become respected officials of 
the same. 

Push was the order, and it was obeyed to 
the utmost. Yet do what they might, strain 


Chapter II'\ 

every nerve, exhaust every resource, the difficul- 
ties to be overcome proved almost insurmount- 
able. The climate stood like a dragon in the 
way. To this day it seems astonishing that 
any soul survived to tell the tale. Labor was 
brought by the four winds: from the West In- 
dies, Spanish Main, United States, Europe, and 
Asia. All was inefficient. The white men with- 
ered as cut plants in the sun. The Chinese fell 
victims, almost everyone, to a mania for sui- 
cide; while the colored contingent was, for the 
whole period, hard to secure in sufficient num- 
bers to carry on the work with the rapidity so 
ardently desired. The dreaded Chagres fever 
cried delay. And yet it must be stated that the 
death rate was comparatively low. It has been 
a fearful exaggeration to say, for example, that 
each cross-tie of the railroad track represents a 
corpse. Let us see. That would be about 2,000 
for each mile, or not far from 100,000 in all. 
As a matter of fact, now stated upon the highest 
authority, the whole number employed, from 
first to last, did not exceed 6,000, of whom not 
more than forty per cent died in the service. It 
is true that the hospitals were always filled, and 
that sulphate of quinine became a prime neces- 
sity — almost an article of diet; but chills and 
fever rarely kill, and the so-called Chagres fever 



is nothing more. It is a malarial fever, disagree- 
able and often difficult to control, but by no 
means deadly. The chill is not of a pronounced 
type, being rather a dumb ague than an old- 
fashioned "shake." I speak from experience; 
for I suppose I must have had at least a hun- 
dred attacks of it. It leaves the system much 
prostrated, requiring careful nursing and a 
change of climate, if possible, but no one need 
have a mortal dread of it. Quinine and care 
are the remedies. 

As soon as a few miles of track had been 
graded, an engine and construction cars were 
brought out, and track-laying was begun. 

Gatun, the first station, seven miles from As- 
pinwall, was reached on the first of October, 
1851, and it was not long before passengers 
began to use the road in a small way. The 
New York steamers still came to Chagres, at 
the mouth of the river, to deliver and to re- 
ceive passengers; but in November — ^the month 
of northers — of that same year the steamers 
Georgia and Philadelphia were caught in a cy- 
clone off Chagres, and were compelled to put 
into Navy Bay for refuge. This event gave 
the railroad its first business of any importance. 
We are told that there was not, at the time, a 
passenger car of any description on the road; 


Chapter II^^ 

but that arrangements were made by which the 
large number of passengers brought by these 
steamers were safely transported as far as 
Gatun (seven miles), whence they proceeded in 
boats up the river, on their way across the Isth- 
mus, " well pleased." 

This was the fortuitous beginning of the 
great travel that soon followed, the receipts 
from which, during the remainder of the time 
before the road was completed, amounted to 
about $2,000,000. All this went at once into 
construction and was of course a great finan- 
cial help. News of the transfer of passengers 
was carried far and wide, and the doubtful for- 
tunes of the railroad were greatly improved 
thereby. The wavering courage of the directory 
was restored and from that time, although great 
trials were in store, success was never doubted. 

Before the track had been finished to Gatun, 
several vessels carried their cargoes across the 
bar, at the mouth of the Chagres, and proceed- 
ing up the river, landed them at that station. 
These cargoes consisted of materials for con- 
struction and greatly facilitated the progress of 
the work beyond Gatun ; so that in a few months 
Barbacoas was reached, which is halfway across 
the Isthmus. At this point it became necessary 
to take the track across the Chagres River. A 



wooden bridge 300 feet long was planned, but 
when it was nearly completed one span was 
swept away by a great flood. 

At this time, on October 10, 1852, the la- 
mented death of the president of the company, 
John Lloyd Stephens, at the age of forty-seven, 
occurred in New York, whither he had gone, 
worn out with anxiety and laid low by the 
climate. His loss was keenly felt. He was a 
man of more than ordinary ability, as his work 
on Central America, published by Harper & 
Brothers in 1841, and richly illustrated by Cath- 
erwood, testifies. 

Mr. W. C. Young succeeded Mr. Stephens 
as president of the company. 

At the time of Mr. Stephens's death things 
looked dark. A new contract had been made 
with Mr. M. C. Story for the completion of the 
road from the bridge across the Chagres, at 
Barbacoas, to Panama; but after a year the 
bridge was still unfinished, and at last the whole 
work faltered and stood still. The company 
was again compelled to assume entire charge, 
and to take such steps as were necessary to fin- 
ish the track. In the place of Mr. Stephens's 
successor, Mr. David Hoadley became president 
— " a gentleman who deservedly enjoyed the re- 
spect and confidence, not alone of the company, 


Chapter 11^ 

but also of the entire community." He was a 
man of wealth, and under his presidency affairs 
began to look more promising. Colonel A. J. 
Center was vice-president, and a little later be- 
came resident superintendent on the Isthmus in 
order to forward, by his presence, tact, and un- 
common energy, the interests of the enterprise. 

The most strenuous efforts were now made, 
and on January 27, 1855, "at midnight and 
in rain," the last rail was laid at the Summit, 
now Culebra, thirty-seven miles from Aspin- 
wall, and ten miles from Panama. The Pan- 
ama end of the road was built under the care 
of Mr. J. Young, who is said to have been a 
capable man; the materials for construction hav- 
ing been sent from New York to Panama by sea. 

During all these years great credit is due to 
Colonel G. M. Totten and the officers and men 
under his direction, and especially to Mr. James 
L. Baldwin, for the unfailing courage dis- 
played. To quote from a writer of the period 
— at a crisis near the end of the year 1850 — 
" the bravest might well have faltered, and even 
turned back from so dark a prospect as pre- 
sented itself to the leaders of this forlorn hope; 
but they were men whom personal perils and 
privations could not daunt, whose energy and 
determination, toil and suffering could not van- 



quish." They saw with prophetic vision, even 
through the dehrium of fever, and the clouds 
of doubt and darkness by which they were en- 
veloped, that they were engaged in an under- 
taking of great importance to the commerce of 
the world, and that upon their devotion its early 
completion depended. All honor should there- 
fore be paid to the memory of these heroic men. 
They have now joined the majority, everyone, 

— " All, all are gone, the old familiar faces," — 

but their names should be remembered with 
those who have conferred benefits on our race. 





Chapter III] 


T^HE railroad was finished. It had cost 
-*• $7,000,000. Would it pay? 

To one who had never seen a tropical jungle it 
might seem strange that a little road, less than 
fifty miles in length, should have cost very nearly 
$140,000 per mile; more especially when there 
had been no heavy grading, no tunneling, no 
rock cutting of any importance; and a summit 
level of only 262 feet above the sea. Without 
the least suspicion of extravagance or dishonesty, 
how could the total expense have been so enor- 

But the real wonder was that the road had been 
built at all. To this distant day, one cannot pass 
from ocean to ocean, and see from the car win- 
dows the dense masses of tangled verdure on 
either side, forming in many places green walls 
apparently impenetrable, without a sense of the 
marvelous. How could lines ever have been 
run? And afterwards, how could men have been 
found to penetrate and conquer this torrid wil- 



As already stated, Colonel A. J. Center was 
appointed to the position of superintendent, 
while Colonel Totten retained that of chief en- 
gineer. It has always been said that Colonel 
Totten, recognizing the great services of Mr. J. 
L. Baldwin, in the location and construction of 
the road — from the time when, in company with 
Mr. John L. Stephens, before the Concession of 
1850 had been obtained from the Bogota Gov- 
ernment, he had gone over the route, and de- 
cided that it was practicable for a railroad, to the 
hour when the first engine bellowed its trium- 
phant way from ocean to ocean — had generously 
certified his willingness that Mr. Baldwin should 
be made chief engineer, but that the offer had 
been as generously refused. At all events, Mr. 
Baldwin retired from the Isthmus, and spent 
several years in the West, after which he returned 
to perform his part in the tragedy to be recounted 

Mr. Perez Turner was made assistant en- 
gineer ; Mr. William Nelson given the important 
post of commercial agent at Panama ; John Mar- 
cial appointed to the equally responsible position 
of fiscal and shipping agent at Aspinwall; John 
Wilson made commissary; John F. Bateman, 
master mechanic ; and Messrs. Lee and Thomson, 



Chapter III] 

With this staff of good men and true the 
working organization was completed, and the 
world was informed that time had been annihi- 
lated on the Panama Isthmus, or had at least 
been cut down to about three hours for passenger 
trains, and four or five hours for freight. There 
was to be no more dreadful bungo-mule combina- 
tion, picturesque though it had been ; but all man- 
kind might cross from sea to sea in the cars. 

Just how the anticipated volume of business 
was all at once to be accommodated was not so 
clear. Here was the railroad, but so great had 
been the financial stress that no provision of mo- 
tive power and rolling stock had been made. 
The road was, for the moment, as poor as pov- 
erty. Its principal asset was hope. No doubt 
arose in the mind of Superintendent Center, who 
was at all times an optimist, or of Colonel Tot- 
ten, whose strong point was obstinacy, that soon 
all would be well. Money would roll in literally 
on wheels. If the present could be bridged over, 
the future would take care of itself. To help in 
bridging it, and to gain firm foothold upon that 
golden future, cautious and sagacious Colonel 
Center, requested to send to the president and di- 
rectors in New York his ideas of a tariff of 
charges suitable to the situation, advised the fol- 
lowing : 




First Class. $25.00 gold 

i Steerage 10 .00 gold 


Personal Baggage $0 . 05 per pound 

Express 1 . 80 per cu])ic foot 

Ordinary First Class 50 per cubic foot 

Second Class 1 . 50 per 100 pounds 

Mails 22 per pound 

Coal 5 . 00 per ton 

" These rates," said Colonel Center to me, long 
afterwards, " were intended to be, to a certain 
extent, prohibitory, until we could get things in 
shape. As soon as we were on our feet and ready 
for business we could, as I wrote the president, 
gracefully reduce our charges to within reason- 
able limits. For it is always pleasing to the pub- 
lic to have prices come down rather than rise." 

To his surprise, these provisional rates were 
adopted; and what is more, they remained in 
force for more than twenty years. It was found 
just as easy to get large rates as small; and thus, 
without looking very much to the future, this 
goose soon began to lay golden eggs with aston- 
ishing extravagance. The road was put in good 
order, with track foremen established in neat cot- 
tages four or five miles apart, along the whole 


Chapter III] 

line. New engines and ears were put on, com- 
modious terminal wharves and other buildings 
provided, and all things were in excellent shape. 
Dividends on the original 50,000 shares be- 
gan to be paid, and soon mounted to twenty- 
four per cent per annum, with a large surplus 
carried to the sinking fund. Nor was it long 
before the price of the shares went up in Wall 
Street to more than one hundred per cent above 
par; and although a stock dividend of forty per 
cent was declared, to cover the amount of earn- 
ings which had gone toward construction, thus 
increasing the capital from $5,000,000 to $7,- 
000,000, the shares were sold the next day at the 
same high price at which they had been sold the 
day before. They were regarded as almost the 
best investment in Wall Street at that period. 
In fact, for the first ten years the enterprise was 
on the high tide of prosperity, and it did not 
seem possible that its fortunes could ever become 
a prey to rivalry. The management was con- 
servative, too much so perhaps, and strictly hon- 
est. Under the presidency of Mr. David Hoad- 
ley, whose name was the synonym of honor, 
assisted by the able and indefatigable secretary of 
the company, Mr. Joseph F. Joy, the corpora- 
tion soon became known and respected in the 
business world as one of unquestionable stabil- 



ity and worth. Everyone connected with it, from 
president to office boy, took a pecuHar pride in 
such connection, as though honor had been con- 
ferred thereby. If to be a Roman was greater 
than to be a king, so to be in any way associated 
with the Panama Railroad Company's service 
was to be highly favored by fortune. 

On the Isthmus there was an esprit du corps, 
a feeling of pride that manifested itself in a 
hundred ways, of which newcomers were speedily 
made aware. And it must be recorded, that while 
there was not the least extravagance in the con- 
duct of affairs, but, on the contrary, great sim- 
plicity, the officers, clerks, and employees gen- 
erally were paid generously for their services, and 
the lives of themselves and families made as com- 
fortable as possible under the circumstances. 

The Isthmus of those days was but slowly 
emerging from long years of almost absolute iso- 
lation and consequent industrial decay. Except 
the narrow lane through which the track had been 
laid, hewn out of the jungle and hemmed in by 
dense vegetation, it was practically an unknown 
land. Its resources, so far as the people of the 
railroad were concerned, were nil. 

It was necessary, therefore, that the company 
should be, in a manner, patriarchal in its rela- 
tions to those whom it employed. The food they 


Chapter III] 

ate and the houses in which they lived were part 
of the contract. During the first years it was a 
large family, the head of which was the super- 
intendent or the chief engineer, either taking 
charge in the absence of the other. Headquar- 
ters were at the Washington House, fronting the 
Caribbean, whose foam-crested waves beat for- 
ever on the coral reef looking northward, a few 
yards away. There the officers gathered for their 
meals, with the chief at the head, in true family 
style. All the supplies, with few exceptions — a 
chicken, a pig, a few yams or yucas, a bunch of 
bananas — ^were brought from New York ; the na- 
tive farmer not yet suspecting that he had for- 
tune within his indolent grasp, did he but know 
or care. 

Even in case of illness, medical attendance and 
the hospitals were free; for the company kept 
competent surgeons on its pay rolls, whose duty 
it was to dose and to carve its servants in case 
of need. 

A library of good books, and a reading room, 
with billiards attached, were also provided for 
the employees; nor were the spiritual needs of 
the railroad flock forgotten, as the fine church, 
built in 1865 mainly at the expense of the com- 
pany, upon the margin of the sounding sea, still 



In short, nothing in reason was omitted by the 
company that could make the chains of exile 
easier to wear by those who had left their north- 
ern homes to join the Isthmian service. Railroad 
life, at best, is not altogether rose-colored; but 
here was found a Colony of the Rail, so to speak, 
whose members, with few exceptions, were satis- 
fied with their lot. 

And thus Gray-Beard Time marshaled his 
great army of the hours, days, weeks, months, 
and years in quick procession, while prosperity 


Chapter IV} 


T T AVING been appointed, during this happy 
'■■ ^ period, to a position in the service of the 
Panama Railroad Company on the Isthmus, I 
arrived at Colon (then Aspinwall) , by the steam- 
ship Northern Light, Captain Tinklepaugh, 
nine days from 'New York. It was the early 
morning of December 20, 1861, almost seven 
years after the road had been opened. Ice in 
North River had delayed the departure of the 
steamer, crowded with passengers for California 
and other parts of the Pacific coast. There was 
no sun in the steely sky, and the short day was 
nearly done when the Narrows were passed, and 
the steamer headed for the gray and gusty sea. 
The storm-tossed vessel went plunging onward 
into the inky darkness, and all on board were 
wretched in the extreme. But in a few days the 
Gulf Stream had been crossed, dreaded Cape 
Hatteras, and Watling's Island, where Colum- 
bus first landed, left behind ; the tropic of Cancer 
cut in two; Bird Rock, Castle Island, Cape 
Maysi at the eastern end of Cuba, and Navassa 



Island passed, and the indigo Caribbean entered. 
Bitter winter weather had been suddenly ex- 
changed for tropical heat and the golden sun- 
light of the Belt of Palms. 

At that time Commodore Vanderbilt owned 
the steamers on the Atlantic side, while the 
Pacific Mail Company had the service between 
Panama and San Francisco, and the Panama 
Railroad had put on a line to Central American 
ports. The south coast, as far as Valparaiso, was 
supplied by the boats of the Pacific Steam Navi- 
gation Company, of which Mr. George Petrie — ■ 
" Lord George," — a man of remarkable ability, 
was the general manager, with offices at Callao. 

These were all the steam connections on the 
Pacific coast at that time; although a line — of 
which more hereafter — ^was established, a little 
later, between Panama and Australia, via the 
Sandwich Islands and New Zealand. 

On the Atlantic side there were only the New 
York line, the Royal Mail Southampton line, 
and the first of Holt's Liverpool monthly boats, 
which afterwards developed into the strong West 
India and Pacific Steamship Company, now 

These connections, and a line of sailing ves- 
sels from New York, gave the road a traffic ap- 
parently satisfactory to those concerned. 


Chapter IF] 

Among my fellow-passengers on the Northern 
Light was an American sea captain named 
Dewey, about eighty years of age, a resident of 
JLambayeque; to whom, or to whose breezy old 
ghost I wish to pay my respects, as a man of 
great good nature, with an immense fund of salt- 
sea lore, which it appeared to give him a sort of 
spendthrift pleasure to impart. A character that 
would have delighted Robert Louis Stevenson or 
Clark Russell, he contributed to make my first 
sea voyage memorable; and I trust he is now 
with " the jolly, jolly mariners " of " The Last 

Tinklepaugh, the captain of the steamer, was 
a large, gross, rough, florid, ignorant Dane, a 
favorite of Commodore Vanderbilt, of whom he 
told this characteristic story. One cold winter 
night a Sound steamer belonging to the Com- 
modore lost her way in a storm, and went ashore 
on Long Island. Tinklepaugh was the first mate 
of the boat, and was given the chief credit of 
getting her off and saving her. A few days 
later he met the Commodore, who praised him, in 
rough fashion, for the service he had rendered. 
But he thought he deserved a more substantial 
reward for a night of exposure and of great 
peril; especially as his wages were only forty 
dollars a month; and ventured to say so. 



" Young man," roared Vanderbilt, " what in 
thunder do you want anyhow? " 

" Well, sir, this being zero weather, perhaps 
a nice warm suit of clothes might strike you 
favorably, in recognition of my having saved 
your ship." 

''Do you not receive your wages regularly? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Well, then, that is all you will get and be 
d — d to you. I like you well enough, but let 
me tell you, young feller, I have found that the 
only way to have good men is to keep them 

Lists of the Panama Railroad Company's of- 
ficers, both in New York and on the Isthmus, 
as they were when I came to Aspinwall, will be 
found in the appendix. 

The 'New York offices were in the old Tontine 
Building at 88 Wall Street, whence they were 
long afterwards removed to the Mills Building, 
then to 29 Broadway, and later to 24 State 

On the Isthmus the railroad people were a 
kind of happy family, with Colonel Totten at 
their head. That gentleman, although no longer 
young, was still vigorous. As I remember him, 
he was a small dark man, and wore spectacles. 
His manner was quiet and reserved, although he 


Chapter IF] 

had plenty of humor. He gained much credit 
for having engineered the road successfully 
through all difficulties, while it was under con- 
struction, and he was regarded with great favor 
by the president and directors. It must be said 
of him that he possessed certain qualities of the 
first order, chief of which was his staying power. 
His opinion once formed^ there was no more to 
be said on the subject. Indeed, he was conserv- 
ative to the last degree. While he was modest 
and unobtrusive, it would nevertheless have been 
difficult to move him from a position once as- 
sumed. As a military man he would have been 
an obstinate fighter. As a civilian he was reti- 
cent, plain, steadfast, just, and the soul of honor 
and honesty. He was a superior man without 
being great, looked up to and respected by 
all; but hardly a man of practical affairs be- 
yond his chosen profession of civil engineer, 
and it is doubtful if his retention by the com- 
pany, as its virtual head, long after a wide- 
awake traffic manager was needed in that posi- 
tion, was wise. For many years whatever he 
said " went." If he withheld his approval the 
affair, whatever it might be, was no longer dis- 
cussed. But he was not a business man, as his 
later misfortunes demonstrated. The very vir- 
tues which recommended him as chief engineer 



of the Panama Railroad during its constric- 
tion, particularly a tenacity of purpose amount- 
ing to obstinacy, were unfavorable to continued 

Colonel A. J. Center had retired from the 
service to accept the general management of 
Wells, Fargo & Company's business in New 
York, and Mr. William Parker, an engineer and 
railroad man formerly connected with the Fitch- 
burg road, and later with the Baltimore and 
Ohio, had been appointed, early in 1861, to suc- 
ceed him as superintendent. Mr. Parker was 
well along in years, but retained a large share 
of activity for the discharge of his duties. He 
was originally from Perth Amboy, N. J., a 
kindly man, paternal in his instincts, and 
greatly respected by the employees. He was 
killed by Mr. Baldwin in 1868, as will be 

Mr. Charles F. Stedman, who succeeded Mr. 
John Marcial as fiscal and shipping agent, was 
the only brother of the distinguished poet and 
critic, Edmund Clarence Stedman, now at the 
head of American letters. He was a young gen- 
tleman of great charm of manner and ability as 
a man of affairs. It gives me great pleasure to 
recall him. His health failed and his lamented 
death followed soon after my arrival, when I had 


Chapter IV} 

the honor to be appointed to the position thus so 
sorrowfully made vacant. 

Mr. William Nelson was perhaps the strong- 
est horse in the team. He was of Scotch birth, 
and had been at Panama, as United States Con- 
sul, long before the days of the road. His per- 
sonality was of that fascinating quality which 
draws and retains warm friends; at the same 
time, his business sagacity was unquestioned. He 
was a fine man physically, with a corresponding 
intellectual endowment; while a strong sense of 
humor was perhaps his most salient characteris- 
tic. He had control of the general interests of 
the company at Panama, including the agency 
of the Central American steamers. In 1872, 
or early in 1873, he left the service and retired 
to Guatemala, where he had made profitable in- 
vestments in coffee estates. He died there, Feb- 
ruary 12, 1878, at the age of sixty-two. 

Mr. E. D. Dennis was one of the most ele- 
gant young men to be found anywhere. He was 
in the railroad service for several years, and held 
also the agency of Wells, Fargo & Company, at 
Aspinwall, as well as the coal agency for the 
United States navy; from which sources he was 
said to have made a small fortune. Leaving 
the service, in company with Mr. Fred An- 
soategue, he joined the firm of Marcial & Com- 



pany, New York, as partner, and continued to 
prosper. Both he and his wife, a daughter of 
the late Admiral Cooper, U. S. N., and a 
very beautiful and accomplished woman, are 
now dead. 

Mr. Perez Turner was also much respected. 
He married a charming Panama woman who 
survives him. He died at Colon, in September, 

Dr. D. H. Guyon was a gentleman and a 
scholar. He had a large library, and was held 
in high esteem as a man of culture. He went 
from Panama to Chile, where he resided many 
years, afterwards returning to Missouri, whence 
he came. His associate in the pay department, 
Mr. J. P. Woodbury, came from Rutland, Vt., 
but after a few years returned home with his ami- 
able wife, much to the regret of their Isthmian 

Dr. W. T. White had a passion for surgery, 
and made it a practice to dissect his hospital 
patients as soon as they were cold. He had a 
theory that every person who had been in the 
Isthmian climate ten years — in many instances 
less — must have a liver hopelessly diseased. 
Hence the cutting up. He stated that the the- 
ory had been abundantly proven by his investi- 
gations. He went to New York, where he es- 


Chapter IF] 

tablished a practice, and has only recently joined 
the majority. 

Dr. J. P. Kluge was a different kind of man. 
While he had the name of being a good phy- 
sician, he made himself agreeable socially, and 
was much liked. After Dr. White left the Isth- 
mus, he came to Aspinwall, as chief surgeon of 
the company, and had charge of Colonel Tot- 
ten " that time he died and came to life again," 
according to the current phrase. The Colonel, 
although so long acclimated, was very ill with 
the fatal type of yellow fever known as the 
vomito. Dr. Kluge and his associate. Dr. 
Springer, held a final consultation, with the fol- 
lowing result: 

Dr. Kluge announced that there was no chance 
of recovery — ^not the slightest. 

Dr. Springer, more cautious, and believing 
that while there was life there was hope, said 
there might be one chance in a thousand. 

Then a sorrowful contention arose as to the 
mathematical probabilities of an equation where- 
in the unknown quantity appeared so very, very 
doubtful. But to be prepared for the appar- 
ently inevitable, Superintendent Parker had a 
cofiin ready, and a funeral train in waiting. It 
was, indeed, a tearful group, of which I was one, 
that stood around the dying man, with the con- 



fident expectation that each breath would be the 
last. But the remark of Montaigne was then, 
in a manner, illustrated, that " some have sur- 
vived their executioners." For Colonel Totten 
did not die upon that day, nor until many years 
later, on May 17, 1884, at the age of seventy- 

But poor Dr. Kluge, at that time the picture 
of health, fell a victim, not long after, to fever 
and overwork. He did not put foot on ship, as 
he ought, and sail straight away to the North. 
He thought he could cure himself, but before 
he at last decided to leave he had become so 
reduced that he died on the passage home. 

Of others I need not speak. It would have 
been difficult, I think, to find an equal number 
of men who would have shown a like zeal and 
fidelity, or lived together in greater harmony 
and mutual regard. 

The road itself, as I first knew it, might have 
been compared to a great spider, ready to catch 
the flies of commerce that might buzz its way. 
But it was soon evident to me that it was not 
an ambitious spider. The word enterprise was 
unknown to it. If passengers and cargo came, 
they were welcome, and the jingle of their coin 
made pleasant music; but no effort was made to 
enlarge and permanently establish the ingather- 


Chapter IF] 

ing capacities of the web. It was a lazy spider, 
and would almost disdain to say, " Will you 
walk into my parlor? " 

As an illustration, I will mention here that 
about that time the Pacific Mail Company 
wanted to ship 20,000 tons of coal to Panama, 
for the supply of their steamers on the Pa- 
cific. The freight over the road, of $5 per ton 
in gold, without the expense of loading or un- 
loading, was not complained of by the shippers; 
but there was a lack of coal cars, and unless the 
railroad company would supply the deficiency, so 
that ships would not get on demurrage in dis- 
charging, it would be better to send the coal 
around the Horn. 

This was represented to the railroad manage- 
ment, and the reply came back, that cargo of 
that kind was not desired. The whole lot was 
therefore shipped to Panama by sea, and our 
spider missed a fat hundred thousand dollar fly 
that it might have had as well as not. I mention 
this incident to show the sort of come-or-stay- 
away-as-you-please spirit that prevailed. That 
it was a short-sighted policy became painfully 
evident later on. Colonel Totten had gained 
laurels as an engineer, his star was in the ascend- 
ant, and it led a trustful company a good deal 



Had the spirit of modern enterprise, so bril- 
liantly manifested in the building of the road, 
found in its earlier control a representative who 
could have risen to the height of the great com- 
mercial occasion, there is no room for doubt that 
a very different destiny would have waited upon 
the Panama Isthmian transit. 



Chapter V] 


TOURING the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, 
"■"^ while the road was yet unfinished, the 
gross earnings were more than a miUion dollars ; 
and the total income for the first ten years, in- 
cluding 1861, was $11,339,662.78. A consider- 
able portion of this sum was used in construction 
and equipment even after the trains began to 
run. The original capital of the company, as 
before stated, was $5,000,000, in shares of $100 
each; and it was decided by the directors to issue 
a stock dividend of forty per cent, to cover the 
earnings that had been thus used. This raised 
the number of the shares to 70,000, where it still 

This was the period of greatest prosperity. 
Dividends of six per cent quarterly were paid, 
after all expenses had been met, and the affairs 
of the company were the color of the rose. The 
shares were sold in Wall Street at a premium of 
more than one hundred and fifty per cent, even 
after the stock dividend had added $2,000,000 to 
their amount. It did not seem possible that any 



combination of circumstances would interfere 
with this truly phenomenal prosperity. It was 
confidently expected by those who were inter- 
ested that the natural increase of traffic would 
give a corresponding yearly increase of income 
and dividends. And so it might have done, had 
there not been two or three very serious draw- 
backs. Perhaps the most serious was the fatal 
fact that the contract made by John L. Stephens 
with the Government of New Granada, now Co- 
lombia, was for only a very short period, consid- 
ering the importance of the enterprise. It is not 
easy to tell at this late day why the time for 
which the concession was made was so limited. 
Perhaps Mr. Stephens could not make better 
conditions ; or perhaps forty-nine years — for that 
was the term of the contract — may have seemed 
long enough to him. It was agreed that at the 
end of the first twenty years from the date of 
opening the road, the Government of New Gra- 
nada could take possession of the same by pay- 
ing the sum of $5,000,000. Here, then, was a 
rich plum, that was yielding a clear revenue of 
twenty-four per cent on $7,000,000, with only 
twenty short years in which to " decline and fall 
off." Or if the Bogota Government should pass 
that date — which was by no means likely — at 
the end of thirty years the sum would be reduced 


Chapter F] 

to $4,000,000; at the end of forty years to 
$2,000,000; and when the forty-nine years came 
round, the road, with all its appurtenances and 
belongings, was to be turned over to Colombia 
without further payment. 

These facts may be found in the contract 
signed at Bogota by Victoriano de D. Paredes 
and John Lloyd Stephens, and approved by 
President Lopez, April 16, 1850. 

With such a Damocles's sword suspended over 
the fortunes of " the best paying railroad in the 
world" what was to be done? 'No amount of 
regret that the affair had not been better ar- 
ranged for the interests of the company would 
now avail. The good people of Colombia were 
keenly alive to the fact that they had, in vulgar 
phrase, a big thing within their grasp. There- 
fore, as early as 1867, or eight years before the 
expiration of the first term of twenty years, the 
directors of the railroad company sent Colonel 
Totten and Mr. William Nelson to Bogota, duly 
commissioned to enter into a new contract that 
should supplement or entirely supersede the old 
one, on the best terms that could be secured. 
Reports had reached the company's headquarters 
in New York, to the effect that other influences 
were at work to obtain possession of the road 
at the expiration of the twenty-year term, in 



1875; and that there was no doubt about the 
payment of the $5,000,000 that would then be 
due to the railroad company, in case Colombia 
should elect to pay it. 

These reports, which doubtless had some foun- 
dation in truth, stimulated the Parent Company, 
as the railroad had now been named, to urge 
upon its representatives before the Colombian 
(or rather 'New Granadian) Government, the 
absolute necessity of prompt action, at whatever 
cost. In this delicate situation, it became neces- 
sary for the ambassadors to overcome, as far as 
possible, the idea entertained by the rulers and 
people of the country that the road was a golden 
providence of infinite benefaction, sent to them 
as an inheritance and reward of merit, forever 
and ever. 

The labors of these gentlemen lasted several 
months; and when at last the new contract was 
signed, July 5, 1867, by Messrs. J. G. Lara, on 
the part of Colombia, and G. M. Totten, for the 
Panama Railroad, and finally approved, with 
some important modifications, August 16, 1867, 
by President Santos Acosta, the ambassadors 
had captured a sort of white elephant. But it 
was probably the best that could have been done 
under the trying circumstances. 

The conditions of the new contract were hard 


Chapter T] 

on the Parent Company, and it is doubtful if it 
would have consented to them if the directorate 
in New York could have been consulted before 
the document had been signed. But at that date 
there was no cable, and Bogota was farther away 
from New York than Japan. It was therefore 
Hobson's choice; take it or leave it. Many 
thought at the time that to leave it would have 
been wiser ; for the burdens assumed by the road 
were onerous in the extreme. It is true that the 
duration of the new franchise had been extended 
to ninety-nine years from the day it was exe- 
cuted; but no other better condition than the old 
contract embraced had been conceded. On the 
contrary, many new obligations had been im- 
posed. First of all, to lubricate the ways for the 
launch of this new scheme, a cool million in gold 
was paid at once; and thenceforward, to the end 
of the ninety-nine years, the further subsidy of 
$250,000 in gold per annum was to be promptly 
handed over to the Government of Colombia, as 
New Granada had in the meantime been re- 
christened. It was further stipulated, in Arti- 
cle IV, that " the company binds itself to ex- 
tend the railroad on the Pacific side to the islands 
of Naos, Culebra, Perico, and Flamenco ; or other 
place in the Bay of Panama where there may ex- 
ist a permanent depth of water for large ships." 



This would involve the expenditure of many 

Another condition imposed was the recession 
of the Island of Manzanillo, upon which Colon 
is built. Under the old contract it had been 
granted to the railroad in perpetuity. Under 
the new, it was to be restored at the end of ninety- 
nine years, along with the road. 

These and minor conditions of a less favorable 
nature than those contained in the original grant 
having been consented to, it was little wonder 
that when the intelligence reached New York, 
and it became known that the future of the com- 
pany had been handicapped with so weighty lia- 
bilities, in exchange for so little present or pros- 
pective gain, panic seized upon the holders of the 
shares. The latter fell in Wall Street when the 
news arrived from the rosy region of three hun- 
dred to the gloomy depths of eighty in a single 
week. It was a case of facilis descensus Averni, 
and the rest of it; which freely translated may 
read: the descent of a railroad to Hades is easy 
enough, but to get it back is another thing. 


Chapter FI] 


/^THER clouds began to gather. In July, 
^^ 1862, the United States Congress passed 
an act in favor of a railroad and telegraph line 
across the continent. A corporate body known as 
the Union Pacific Railroad Company was or- 
ganized and authorized to build the road from a 
point in Nebraska, then a territory, to the west- 
ern boundary of Nevada, there to connect with 
the Central Pacific Railroad, which ran from 
Sacramento eastward. 

This great line, 1,776 miles long, from the 
Missouri River to the Bay of Sacramento, was 
to be completed not later than July 1, 1876, or 
within fourteen years. 

Immense inducements had been offered by the 
United States Government, in the shape of lands 
and direct financial aid. Yet with all these pow- 
erful advantages, nothing was done at the east- 
ern end until 1864, during which year twelve 
miles were constructed from Omaha westward. 
In 1865 so little energy was displayed that 
twenty-eight additional miles only were laid. At 



this rate it would have taken more than a half 
century to complete the work. I remember well 
the remark made at that time by Colonel Tot- 
ten, when discussing the possible danger of com- 
petition with that road. 

" It will be at least twenty-five years," said 
he, " before through trains are run from Omaha 
to San Francisco." He laughed to scorn the 
idea that the fortunes of the Panama Railroad 
were or could be, for a long time to come, in any 
manner influenced unfavorably by the overland 
route. But just then, to quote from the history 
of that stupendous enterprise, as given in Har- 
per's Magazine: 

" The work fell into the hands of men who 
were resolved to push things, no matter at what 
cost. Soon a mile a day was reached. Then, in 
1868, the work was pushed forward with a rapid- 
ity heretofore unknown. For weeks, four miles 
a day was the usual rate at which the rails were 
laid; and early in May, 1869, the thousand miles 
and more from Omaha to the head of Salt Lake 
had been built. Meanwhile the Central Pacific 
had been pushing on their road to meet their 
eastern coadjutors." On May 10, 1869, the 
world was astonished by the intelligence that the 
last rail of the " Overland " had been laid, at 
Promontory Point. " The ceremony of placing 


Chapter VI] 

the last tie of the united roads was performed 
with as much display as possible. The scene was 
a grassy valley at the head of Great Salt Lake. 
About 3,000 people of all sorts had congre- 
gated. Among them were many men who had 
borne a prominent part in the construction of 
the road. The final tie was of polished laurel- 
wood bound at the ends with silver bands. A 
golden spike sent by California, a silver one by 
Nevada, and one of gold and silver and iron by 
Arizona were used. These spikes were driven 
home by the representative officers of the com- 
panies by whom the two roads had been con- 
structed. Prayers were offered and speeches 
made. Arrangements were made by which the 
strokes of the hammers were connected with the 
telegraph wires ; and almost on the instant it was 
known on the Pacific and Atlantic that the junc- 
tion of the roads had been completed." 

And here is what Mr. Bret Harte wrote in 
celebration of the event: 


What was it the engines said. 
Pilots touching, head to head, 
Facing in the single track. 
Half a world behind each back? 
This is what the engines said, 
Unreported and unread. 


With a prefatory screech. 
In a florid Western speech, 
Said the engine from the West: 
"I am from Sierra's crest; 
And if altitude's a test. 
Why, I reckon it's confessed 
That I've done my level best.'* 

Said the engine from the East: 
"They who work best talk the least. 
S'pose you whistle down your brakes; 
What you've done is no great shakes — 
Pretty fair — but let our meeting 
Be a different kind of greeting. 
Let these folks with champagne stuffing, 
Not their engines, do the puffing. 

"Listen! Where Atlantic beats 
Shores of snow and summer heats; 
Where the Indian autumn skies 
Paint the woods with wampum dyes, 
I have chased the flying sun. 
Seeing all he looked upon. 
Blessing all that he has blessed. 
Nursing in my iron breast 
All his vivifying heat. 
All his clouds about my crest; 
And before my flying feet 
Every shadow must retreat." 

Said the Western engine, "Whew!'* 
And a long low whistle blew. 
"Come now, really that's the oddest 
Talk for one so very modest. 


Chapter VI] 

You brag of your East! You dol 
Why, I bring the East to you! 
All the Orient, all Cathay, 
Find through me the shortest way; 
And the sun you follow here 
Rises in my hemisphere. 
Really — if one must be rude — 
Length, my friend, ain't longitude." 

Said the Union, *' Don't reflect, or 
I'll run over some Director," 
Said the Central, "I'm Pacific; 
But, when riled, I'm quite terrific. 
Yet to-day we shall not quarrel. 
Just to show these folks a moral. 
How two engines — in their vision — 
Once have met without collision." 

That is what the engines said. 
Unreported and unread; 
Spoken slightly through the nose, 
With a whistle at the close. 

Thus an undertaking — unprecedented in the 
history of the world — that was to have occupied 
at least twenty-five years, had been completed in 
seven. The crowds of California passengers, the 
mails, and the millions of treasure, as well as the 
higher class of merchandise, ceased to come and 
go via Panama. The best of the California busi- 
ness of the Panama route was over, and the Par- 
ent Company never again pretended to skim the 
cream of that great traffic. 



But this was not the only nor yet the greater 
loss. The entire population of California at the 
time was not more than half a million. It was, 
for the most part, it is true, a population of live 
men, full of energy; and the rapidity of devel- 
opment was marvelous. But with all its enter- 
prise and self-confidence, if its entire commerce 
with the Eastern States and Europe had sought 
the Isthmian route, it would have been limited 
compared with that of the Spanish- American 
west coast. The portion that actually came from 
California to Panama was but a fraction of the 
total amount from all sources. Dr. Otis, in his 
"Handbook," says: 

" The fact seems to be overlooked that while 
California has a population estimated at only 
500,000, the population of Central America is 
over 2,000,000, and that that portion of South 
America, whose only means of communication 
with the Atlantic is either by the Isthmus of Pan- 
ama or around Cape Horn, contains nearly 
8,000,000, and that regular and direct steam com- 
munication exists between those countries and 
the Panama Railroad." 

It would be needless to say another word as 
to the paramount importance of the traffic of 
10,000,000, compared with that of one twentieth 
of that number. Even so long ago as 1867, 


Chapter FI] 

Dr. Otis goes on to state that " careful estimates 
show that the value of the trade of these coun- 
tries to and from the Atlantic exceeds $60,000,- 
000 per annum. The managers of the Panama 
Railroad Company, from its earliest existence, 
were aware of that important circumstance, and 
looked confidently to the business of those re- 
gions already existing, and that which would un- 
doubtedly be developed by the facilities afforded 
by the railroad, as one of the surest elements of 
its ultimate and permanent success." 

It was a natural conclusion that the stimulus 
afforded by the quick and safe transit* of the 
Panama Isthmus byerail would cause a great in- 
crease of traffic, and that, by judicious manage- 
ment, the permanent possession and control of 
the same could be secured. In this case it would 
not matter though California should contribute 
no more to the business of the road than it did 
in 1860, when, according to Dr. Otis, " less than 
one fifteenth of the freighting business was due 
to the California trade," the remaining fourteen 
fifteenths consisting mainly of the Central and 
South American commerce. 

These facts are here given in order that the 
magnitude of the mistake which the Parent Com- 
pany now made may be better appreciated. 

For a long time complaints had come from 



Mr. George Petrie, the able manager of the Pa- 
cific Steam Navigation Company's affairs, on 
the west coast of South America, that the divi- 
sion of rates for through traffic was not satis- 
factory to his company; and that the facihties 
afforded by the Panama Railroad were not, in 
all respects, what they should be, to satisfy 
the demands of the rapidly increasing business. 
At length, whether with or without the knowl- 
edge of the Parent Company I never knew, 
Colonel A. J. Center, who, as already said, had 
been the first superintendent of the railroad on 
the Isthmus, and who was then an officer of the 
Wells, Fargo Express Company, in New York, 
went on a special mission to Peru, to see Mr. 
Petrie, and to arrive, if possible, at an arrange- 
ment that should be satisfactory to all concerned. 
He was absent from New York for some time; 
and I well remember his return to the Isthmus 
on his way home. He had succeeded in making 
an agreement with which he seemed to be greatly 
elated, and which appeared to all who were in 
the secret a wise and equitable adjustment of the 
relations of the several companies interested. It 
was as simple as it was just. 

The rates for passages and freights were to be 
made by the company with which the same origi- 
nated ; and the total charge was to be divided pro 


Chapter FZ] 

rata, the Panama Railroad Company taking 
one third, and the steamship companies on either 
side of the Isthmus sharing equally the remain- 
ing two thirds. 

The fleet of the Pacific Steam Navigation 
Company at that time consisted of twelve steam- 
ers, which made semimonthy voyages between 
Panama and Valparaiso, calling at twenty -eight 
intermediate ports. It was one of the best man- 
aged and most prosperous corporations in the 
world. There was no competition. It had been 
organized as long ago as 1839, and in July, 1840, 
two steamers were dispatched from England, and 
began their regular voyages on the West Coast. 
The business became successful, and the profits 
in a short time were enormous. Mr. William 
Just was the general manager in Liverpool, but 
the control on the Coast was left entirely to Mr. 
Petrie, with headquarters at Callao. A large 
establishment for repairs and for coaling the 
steamers had been located at the island of Ta- 
boga, in the Bay of Panama, under the manage- 
ment of Mr. Jamieson, who was afterwards em- 
ployed by the great shipbuilders. Smith and 
Elder, as chief constructor at their shipyards on 
the Clyde. 

I often visited Taboga in those days, and was 
impressed with the magnitude of the operations 



carried on there. Mr. W. G. Sealy, afterwards 
agent of the Austrahan line, was in charge of 
the office, and good old Dr. McDowell, who sub- 
sequently became editor of the Panama Star and 
Herald, had his residence, as surgeon of the 
works, in a vine-embowered cottage perched upon 
the apex of the Morro, overlooking the shops, 
with wide and lovely vistas of sea and land. 

Hundreds of men were employed, and a large 
amount of money was disbursed, a considerable 
portion of which found its way into the hands 
of Panama merchants. 

As already stated. Colonel Center had brought 
back from Callao a gilt-edged arrangement with 
this powerful line, under which the Parent Com- 
pany could not fail to reap great profit. The 
spider could keep his web intact in that direc- 
tion, though so soon to be broken by the Over- 
land in the other. And it would not matter much 
if the whole of the California trade collapsed, so 
long as 10,000,000 people were still contribu- 
tors to the Isthmian transit. At this time also a 
new line of steamers had been put on between 
Panama and Australia, called the Panama, New 
Zealand, and Australian Royal Mail Line, to 
run once a month via Wellington to Sidney, in 
connection with, or as a " continuation of " the 
great Royal Mail Line between Southampton 


Chapter FZ] 

and Colon. This promised far-reaching results, 
as it would bring the Isthmus into direct com- 
munication with the South Seas and the mighty 
British colonial empire of the South Pacific, of 
which more a little farther on. 

Colonel Center went back to New York. He 
felt that he had accomplished great things; and 
so he had. Yet when he presented the results 
of his mission to the Panama directory, he was 
told, to his dismay, that the conditions of his 
arrangement would not he accepted. With cool 
disregard, or perhaps it were more charitable to 
say, ignorance of the situation, which no amount 
of explanation could dispel or argument en- 
lighten, the final answer was given that the road 
would collect such charges as it might see fit to 
make, and that that was the end of it I 

In a final effort to bring the directorate to 
reason, Colonel Center pointed out that Man- 
ager George Petrie had declared in the most 
positive manner that his company would at once 
proceed to build big steamers for a fast line to 
and from Liverpool, via the Straits of Magel- 
lan, unless rifhis pro rata agreement should be 
confirmed. fBut the threat was regarded with 
contempt. The idea that the Pacific Steam Navi- 
gation Company would dare to talk such non- 
sense only made the directors more inflexible in 



their decision to charge whatever they pleased 
for transportation across the Isthmus. The 
spider got its back up to think that this big fly 
should make an effort to break away. 

But it was soon to be un fait accompli, all the 
same. The bulk of that large commerce was to 
be turned away into another channel. In the 
year 1868 regular voyages were begun between 
Valparaiso and Liverpool, which were later ex- 
tended to Callao; and by 1874 the fleet consisted 
of fifty-four steamers, with a gross tonnage of 
120,000 tons. Only the smaller boats were sent 
to Panama, and they brought as little as possible, 
but acted as feeders, on their return southward, 
for the Straits Line. The repair shops and 
coaling station were removed from Taboga to 
Callao. A staggering blow had been deliv- 
ered; a great chance thrown away. Had the 
Petrie-Center agreement been confirmed, and an 
alliance then formed with the Pacific Steam 
Navigation Company, it would be impossible 
at this day to estimate the magnitude of the 

As mentioned above, a new line had been put 
on between Panama and Australia, with Mr. W. 
G. Sealy (who married the daughter of Mr. 
William Nelson, of Panama) for its agent. It 
commenced in June, 1866, with the four steam- 


Chapter FI] 

ers, Mataura, Kaikoura, Ruahine, and Rakaia, 
all fine new boats of from 1,500 to 1,800 tons, 
which were to make a monthly service. The 
prospects were fair for the establishment of this 
very important line on a permanent footing. It 
was to be expected that at first there might be 
a deficit in the earnings, to cover expenses; but 
no doubt existed that after a short time, with a 
little aid from connecting lines, and from the 
subsidies that would be obtained from the great 
colonies, from the British Government, and from 
the United States, the line would prove a suc- 

It was owing to the lack of such aid, and espe- 
cially to the absence of liberality on the part of 
the Panama Railroad Company, that the enter- 
prise failed. Easily could the road have extended 
a helping hand, and said to the struggling com- 
pany, so full of promise: " Come along; and if 
for a time you do not pay a dollar, it will be all 
right." More yet it might have added, in view 
of the advantages certain to follow : " Here are 
thousands of pounds in cash, to be placed to 
your credit until you can pay them back; and 
don't worry. Only get your line firmly estab- 
Hshed; then you can settle the bill." Or still 
further, suppose the treasury of the road had 
never recovered said outlay; think of the pres- 



tige, and of the final perpetual benefits that 
would have resulted! But no ideas of the kind 
were entertained. " I am here, gentlemen," said 
Mr. Spider, " to take you all in. It is not accord- 
ing to my long-established policy to show favor 
to anybody. If you cannot go it alone, do not 
look for any sort of consideration or aid from 
me. I am not a sentimental spider, nor do I look 
forward to to-morrow. I must have my daily 


Thus, after an ineffectual struggle, during 
which some money was lost, the Panama, New 
Zealand, and Australian Steamship Company 
(Limited) went under. 

It is easy to understand why, previous to sign- 
ing the new contract of 1867 with the Colom- 
bian Government, the Parent Company dis- 
played no interest beyond the present. There 
was doubt if the time of its existence would be 
extended beyond the year 1875, and it was there- 
fore thought best to make as much hay as pos- 
sible while the sun was shining. But as soon 
as the extension to ninety-nine years had been ob- 
tained, under conditions which rendered it im- 
portant in the extreme to secure the largest pos- 
sible future income, the involuntary question 
arises: Why did not the management wake up 
and rise to the level of the situation? Why in 


Chapter VI] 

the world did it allow chances involving the loss 
of millions to escape ? 

Due respect for the memory of the dead would 
perhaps suggest silence. But it is permitted to 
say, without the least wish to blame anyone in 
particular, that there lacked the Able Man at 
the head of affairs, of whom Carlyle was fond 
of writing. ISTo far-seeing and masterful mind 
emerged to grasp and bind together the more 
than continental issues of an unparalleled op- 




TT would be impossible to estimate the im- 
''■ portance of the results which might have 
followed, if the fortunes of the road had been 
in other and wiser hands. Its position was 
unique. A mere glance at the possibilities 
should have convinced the most shortsighted 
that, notwithstanding the loss of a large part 
of the California business with the completion 
of the Overland Road in 1869, there were still 
magnificent opportunities for the future. As 
pointed out, these had been to a large extent 
sacrificed, but Central America remained, and 
its importance was recognized at an early day. 
There were no means of communication with 
the Pacific Coast, from Panama to the Mexican 
border, until after the opening of the Panama 
Road, in 1855, when a line of steamers was 
organized by the railroad company, and in 
the latter part of 1856 the first steamer, the 
Columbus, was dispatched from Panama on her 
initial voyage as far as Guatemala. " The re- 
turns from the monthly voyages soon proved 


Chapter VII] 

the wisdom of the measure," says Dr. Otis, " for 
in less than two years the cargoes of merchan- 
dise brought from those States, for transporta- 
tion over the road, often exceeded in value half 
a million of dollars, while a large amount of 
foreign merchandise found its way to those 
countries by the same channel." 

It was the beginning of great things. Up 
to that time Guatemala had not produced cof- 
fee for export; even as late as 1860 the value 
of the coffee exported from that republic is 
stated by Dr. Otis at $15,352. Costa Rica 
had begun, as early as 1829, to cultivate the 
great staple; and it is on record that in 1850 
14,000,000 pounds were exported by the slow 
and tedious route via Cape Horn to European 
ports. Therefore, as soon as the steamers of 
the Panama Railroad Company began to run, 
a great stimulus was given, in all the Central 
American States, to the production of coffee; 
so that the commerce of the coast became im- 
portant. At first only a few thousand bags 
came to Panama for transportation over the 
road; but from year to year the quantity 
steadily increased, and notwithstanding the 
large amount that found a market through 
other channels — that from Costa Rica via Port 
Limon, from Nicaragua via Greytown, and 



from the other States via the Straits of Magel- 
lan and California — the amount shipped via 
Panama averaged 46,500 tons per annum for 
the five years 1894-98, or 740,000 bags of 125 
pounds each. And the amount has been con- 
stantly increasing; so that when other exports 
from those States, and the ever-growing vol- 
ume of general merchandise imported by them 
via Panama are added, it is readily seen that 
if the road had no other source of revenue, this, 
taken in connection with the passenger travel to 
and from Central America, would have at least 
paid its running expenses, and perhaps given 
a fair profit. 

The management of the Central American 
Line had been left entirely in the hands of Mr. 
William Nelson, the commercial agent of the 
company at Panama, who clearly foresaw how 
great would be the value of that trade, and who 
left nothing undone to advance the interests he 
had in charge. As a proof of his foresight, he 
began at an early day to make investments 
on his own account in Guatemala, which made 
him rich. He recommended putting on new 
steamers, and before long the Guatemala and 
Salvador, the former under the command of 
Captain Dow, and the latter of Captain Rath- 
bun, were running on the coast; while the 


Chapter VII] 

Parkersburg and Winchester were sent out as 
auxiliary steamers to relieve the others during 
the coffee season. Afterwards the Honduras 
was built in England for the company, and the 
trade prospered until the line was sold to the 
Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and incor- 
porated with their Panama and California line 
in 1872. It has continued to grow rapidly, al- 
though a large portion of it has been diverted 
to San Francisco, and thereby lost to the Pan- 
ama transit. 

Mr. Nelson retired to his coiFee estates in 
1872, and after making a pleasure tour of the 
globe, died there in 1878, regretted by all who 
knew him. He was a notable man in many re- 
spects, and easily among the first of those who 
were identified with the Panama Road, in 
ability, tact, and general intelligence. 

A man of entirely different character. Cap- 
tain J. M. Dow was for a long time connected 
with the Central American coast trade, and 
afterwards became agent of the Pacific Mail 
Company on the Isthmus. He was widely 
known, and many appeared to think him com- 
petent, both as captain of a steamer and as 
agent. It will always remain doubtful, how- 
ever, how far a narrow mind and violent 
prejudices can be compatible with a high de- 



gree of usefulness in a position of considerable 

Among the other captains of the Central 
American Line were William Rathbun, A. T. 
Douglas, Havv^es, Bowditch, and Whiteberry. 
The last named was captain of one of the com- 
pany's sailing vessels between New York and 
Colon before that line was transferred to the 
Pacific Mail, the steamers of which company 
began running on the Atlantic side on the 1st 
of ISTovember, 1865. 

The Atlantic service had, up to that time, 
been in the hands of the Atlantic Mail Com- 
pany, owned by Commodore Vanderbilt. The 
Pacific Mail, under the presidency of Captain 
Allan McLane since November, 1860, deter- 
mined to control the whole line from New York 
to San Francisco. The trade was at that time 
growing rapidly in volume and in importance; 
and to meet the requirements of the company 
the capital stock was increased, by act of the 
New York Legislature, from $4,000,000 to 
$10,000,000, and a little later to $20,000,000. 
The old Vanderbilt steamers. Ocean Queen, 
Rising Star J Northern Lights Ariel, and Cham- 
pion, were bought, and three new steamers, 
Henry Chauncey, Arizona, and New York, 
were built; so that there was no lack of 


Chapter VII] 

ships for the new service. They were all side 
wheelers, the screw not yet having been adopted. 
The stately ship Henry Chauncey, commanded 
by Commodore A. G. Gray, was the first to 
sail under the new arrangement, as before 
stated, November 1, 1865. I was passenger 
by her on that occasion, and remember well 
the delightful voyage. The late distinguished 
General Hovey, fresh from the war, was also 
a passenger, on his way as United States 
Minister to Peru, and was conspicuous in a 
general's uniform coat, tall hat, and carpet 

The Henry Chauncey was followed by the 
Arizona^ Captain Jeff Maury; Ocean Queen, 
Captain Seabury; and a little later, the Rising 
Sun, Captain H. P. Conner. The old Van- 
derbilt captains were not employed by the 
Pacific Mail Company. I have already men- 
tioned Captain Tinklepaugh. Captain Jones 
was a hearty old chap, genial and popular. 
He was in the Ariel when that steamer was 
captured by the Alabama, in the Caribbean, 
December 7, 1862. The Ariel was on her way 
from New York, with a large number of pas- 
sengers, including a hundred and fifty United 
States Marines, and a valuable cargo. She was 
detained three days, while Captain Semmes de- 



bated whether he would land the passengers and 
crew at the Island of Navassa, and burn the 
ship, but on account of the large number of 
women and children on board, be it said to his 
credit, he let her go. Captain Jones was also 
a Southerner, and always claimed that it was 
partly on that account that he was permitted 
to give bonds to the Confederacy, and to pro- 
ceed on his voyage, instead of having his ship 

On his arrival at Colon there was the most 
intense excitement, and other demon- 
strations of temporary insanity Mr. Benjamin 
Keeney, wharf builder and alleged poet, rushed 
off to his room, darkened the windows, lighted 
all the candles he could get — after the manner 
of Alfred de Musset when composing poetry — 
and wrote a long string of verses to commem- 
orate the event. It is to be regretted that a 
copy of this wonderful production is not ex- 
tant. It celebrated " Brave Jones and his Ariel 
ship," and described the state of things on 
board, before the appearance of Semmes, as 
*' a lovely sylvan scene." When the Ariel was 
boarded the children all howled, and the ladies 
fainted, but the gallant and " bold pirettes " re- 
stored them (in rhyme) with their " vinegar- 


Chapter VII] 

It would be impossible, however, to do justice 
to this work of genius. 

Captain Wilson was a small, quiet man, as 
unlike a sea captain as possible. He had many 
friends — not on that account — but because of 
his agreeable ways. All three have been long 
gone to another world. 

Of the captains who followed, in command of 
the New York steamers, Commodore Gray was 
perhaps the most popular and best known; al- 
though Captain Jeff Maury was regarded as 
an ideal captain. He was quiet, cool, and ret- 
icent, lacking neither ability nor nerve. He 
was in temporary command of the Steamship 
Bienville, which had been chartered by the Pa- 
cific Mail, when that vessel was burned, near 
Watling's Island, on August 9, 1872. I have 
always felt a peculiar interest in that sad event, 
as I was in New York when the Bienville 
sailed, and was to have taken passage by her, 
but was fortunately (perhaps providentially) 
detained until the following steamer — the Ocean 
Queen,, Captain Baker, and Purser William 
Connor, who was afterwards agent of the Pa- 
cific Mail Steamship Company at Colon. 

George William Curtis, in " The Easy 
Chair " of Harper's Magazine for November, 
1872, gave an account of the burning of the 



Bienville^ which I recommend for the reader's 
perusal. It pays a high tribute to Captain 
Maury and his officers, and closes as follows: 

" The stories of those who were saved confirm 
the fact of the entire calmness and capacity of 
the Captain. 

" There were, indeed, instances of selfishness, 
and accidents with loss of life. But the nerve 
of the captain paralyzed all disaster and made 
safety possible. He knew what to do, and how 
and when to do it, and his moral mastery alone 
prevented a frightful catastrophe. His name is 
Jefferson Maury. There has been no name 
lately mentioned deserving of more sincere re- 
spect. Those who are going to sea will sleep 
in their berths more soundly if they know that 
Captain Maury commands the ship ! " 

The captain, preceded by his purser, William 
Alpheus Smith, was the last man to leave the 
burning steamer. 

Captain Maury was near of kin to the cele- 
brated Lieutenant M. F. Maury, U.S.N., and 
was educated at the United States Naval Acad- 
emy at Annapolis. He had been in the navy be- 
fore he became a merchant captain. He remained 
a few years in the Atlantic service of the Pa- 
cific Mail Company, and was then transferred 
to their China line, where he had the misfortune 


Chapter VII] 

to lose the fine ship City of Tokio, He was 
afterwards employed as an agent for the com- 
pany in the Orient. 

A few years ago he crossed the Isthmus for 
the last time. His health was badly shattered, 
and shortly afterwards he passed away at his 
home in Oakland, California. 

The following '' personal " and. my reply 
thereto (referring to Captain Maury), which 
appeared in the Panama Star and Herald in 
September, 1893, may be of interest: 

"Amongst the transit passengers who sail by 
the Colombia to-day is Mr. Daniel Phillips. In 
course of conversation Mr. Phillips made known 
to a Star and Herald representative that he was 
one of the passengers on the Ocean Queen when 
that ill-fated vessel was wrecked on Watling's 
Island, some twenty-one years ago. He has in 
his possession to-day a splinter of the rock 
which did that noble ship to death, but gener- 
ously held her on its rugged back, so that she 
might not slip off into deep water with her liv- 
ing freight. The treacherous Bahamas are re- 
sponsible for untold marine casualties, which are 
more or less remembered by their victims; but 
we will venture on the assertion that there are 
not many of these who travel about the world 
with a fragment of Columbus's Landfall in their 



valise. This unique distinction belongs to Mr. 
Phillips, and thereto we beg to direct the atten- 
tion of Mr. William Clark Russell." 

" The Ocean Queen, 
"Colon, Sept. 5, 1893. 

" Editor Star and Herald. 

"Dear Sir: The interesting item published 
in your issue of this date, furnished your repre- 
sentative by Mr. Daniel Phillips, will of course 
be widely read, and may very possibly, as you 
intimate, afford Mr. Clark Russell the motive 
for another thrilling romance of the sea. But in 
the interests of history, I beg respectfully to cor- 
rect the impression conveyed that the good old 
Ocean Queen was wrecked and done to death by 
the rock at Watling's Island, of which ]\Ir. 
Phillips still treasures a splinter as a souvenir 
of the disaster. 

"No, dear sir! Take my word for it that 
the vessel vv^as not lost on that occasion, nor was 
she even so disabled that she failed to make the 
passage to Colon, and back again to New York. 
Permit me to say that she was in command of 
Captain Jeff Maury at the time, and that it 
was owing to his able seamanship that her prob- 
able loss was avoided. I do not dispute the 
rock, nor yet the splinter ; but the inference that 
a disaster followed is entirely misleading. Cap- 
tain Maury simply backed her off, drew a sail 
under her forefoot, so that it covered the hole 


Chapter VII] 

that had been made by the aforesaid rock, 
pumped her out, and came on. And when the 
day of saiHng arrived, nothing daunted, he 
pointed her old nose toward the north star, and 
let her paddle her way homeward (for she was 
a side- wheeler) just as though everything was 
perfectly lovely! 

" That was the kind of man Jeff Maury was. 
He had only just before this event, in the month 
of August, 1872, shown of what material he 
was made, in the terrible Bienville disaster, only 
a few miles from that same Columbus's Land- 
fall. He had seen every soul safely out of the 
burning ship, before he, scorched by the flames, 
went down a rope over her stern into the sea, to 
be picked up or not, as chance might have it. 

'' But as Kipling would say, that is another 

" Let it suffice to be said, my dear Editor, that 
the Ocean Queen, originally named, if I am not 
mistaken. Queen of the Pacific, lived many 
years after the incident referred to in this 




rpHE disaster of the Bienville was preceded 
'*" by the loss of the Golden Rule of the Nic- 
aragua Line, Captain Dennis, wrecked on the 
Roncador (the Snorer), where the old Kear- 
sarge and so many other vessels have gone to 

The Golden Rule had left New York with 
orders to proceed to Greytown and deliver mails 
there; then go on to Colon, and transfer her 700 
passengers to a steamer of the same line that 
would be at Panama to receive them, as they 
could not, for some reason, be transferred via 
the Nicaragua transit. This was in May, 1865, 
at a time when it happened that I had the honor 
to represent the Government of the United 
States at Colon as Vice Consul in charge. My 
friend Captain William Lawrence Merry, then 
local agent for the Nicaragua steamers, made 
known to me the fact that the Golden Rule was 
much overdue, and stated his fears that some- 
thing had gone wrong with her. I then made 
an official request to Captain George Henry 


\ 4 




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■'■;.■';';.■•-:■',':•■■ ■ . ■ Kii 

pfc"^-T -"T -'^IJ^H 



\i' . 


(ABOUT) 1886. 

Chapter VIII] 

Preble, U. S. INT., in command of the gunboat 
State of Georgia, and Captain E. D. Devens 
("Ned Devens") of the Huntsville, both then 
fortunately at Colon, that they would look up 
the missing ship. They readily complied, and 
it was arranged to have the Huntsville go 
first to Greytown, as quickly as possible, to 
learn if the vessel had been there, or if any- 
thing had been heard of her. I went and re- 
turned in the Huntsville, accompanied by the 
late Don Demetrio Arosemena, who was then 
agent of the Atlantic Steamship Company at 
Colon. Nothing was seen or heard of the Golden 
Rule; but about the time of our return a boat 
arrived at Colon, from the Roncador Reef, 
bringing the news of her loss. At once the two 
gunboats were up and away to the rescue. 
They found the Golden Rule (a fine new ship) 
a total wreck, but all the passengers and 
crew, over 800 souls, safely landed on the reef, 
which is only a few feet above the sea. They 
were immediately taken off by the two vessels, 
and landed at Colon about ten days from 
the date of the disaster, all safe and sound, but 
the most destitute, wretched crowd that could 
be imagined. Colon, for once, had its hands 
full, and it responded nobly. Mrs. Susan H. 
Smith, then, as for so many years, proprietress 



of the Howard House, opened her doors as if 
they had been the portals of a richly endowed 
charity, and gave the unfortunates a hearty 

So it was all over the town. The other ho- 
tels, large and small, as well as the merchants, 
were eager to aid the sufferers. In a day or two 
arrangements had been made for their transfer, 
and these " forlorn and shipwrecked brothers " 
(and sisters and small children) were sent on 
their way rejoicing. 

Only Victor Smith had been left behind, at 
his own request, on the Roaring Roncador. He 
was an agent of the United States Treasury, in 
charge of a large amount of bonds and green- 
backs, for delivery at the Sub-Treasury in San 
Francisco. His wife and children had been sent 
forward with the other passengers, but he had 
elected to remain by the wreck, a high sense of 
duty forbidding him to leave the scene of deso- 
lation so long as there was the faintest hope of 
recovering the treasure. He was that kind of 
man. And there he sat him down and waited 
for weeks. At last, one fine day, a tall shape 
darkened the doors of the United States Con- 
sulate at Colon, and a hollow voice demanded 
if that was the official residence of the repre- 
sentative of the American eagle, and if I was 


ChaiJter VIW] 

that representative. Mr. Smith then related how 
he had patrolled the desolate Roncador, night 
and day, watching and praying, until a won- 
derful thing happened. The iron safe, weigh- 
ing half a ton or more, in which the treas- 
ure had been placed, was washed ashore! It 
had been taken by the waves of the sea out of 
the wreck, and rolled and tumbled like a log 
of wood, high and dry on the reef, where he 
had been able to secure the contents, or such 
portion of the same as he had thought best 
to bring away. He was a spiritualist, he 
said, and the spirits had assisted him. As 
evidence of the truth of his story, he delivered 
to me a package about a foot in length and 
six inches thick, done up in striped bed-ticking; 
with the request that it be securely locked in 
the Consulate safe until called for. He de- 
clared that it contained the aforesaid bonds and 
greenbacks, or such part of them as had been 

The general appearance and conduct of Mr. 
Smith indicated lunacy; yet there was method 
in his madness. He insisted that a passage to 
San Francisco should be furnished him; and 
when it was explained that no provision had been 
made in the consular regulations for an expend- 
iture so unusual, he became much excited, and 



in fact abusive. He withdrew the package from 
my keeping, took the first train to Panama, and 
the earhest steamer thence to San Francisco, 
where, it was supposed, he dehvered the mirac- 
ulously recovered package to the proper con- 
signee. A strange and sinister destiny seemed 
to follow the poor man, for he was almost im- 
mediately afterwards lost at sea, in a great storm, 
on his way to Puget Sound from San Fran- 

An investigation was ordered, and Captain 
Dennis, of the Golden Rule, was severely crit- 
icised for not taking proper care of Smith 
and his treasure; but nothing was ever proven 
against him. A curious statement was made at 
the time, to the effect that Captain Dennis was 
very deaf, and that he had lost his ship through 
inability to hear the breakers roar. The bonds 
and greenbacks apparently failed to arrive in 
San Francisco; and in view of the controversy 
that arose, I have always regretted that I did 
not insist upon seeing the inside of the striped 

In a newspaper article dated Washington, 
September 25, 1893, Mr. George Grantham 
Bain made the following statement, which can 
probably be relied on as correct, in regard to 
the missing treasure: 


Chapter Fill] 

" One of the most celebrated losses in the his- 
tory of the Treasury Department is known as 
the Golden Rule case. The Government actu- 
ally lost nothing, but apparently it lost $1,000,- 
000, and the affair was made very sensational 
by newspaper publications at the time. On 
May 18, 1865, the treasurer of the United States 
shipped to the assistant treasurer at San Fran- 
cisco one thousand $1,000 time notes, payable in 
three years. These notes were shipped on board 
the vessel Golden Rule, The Golden Rule was 
wrecked on Roncador Reef, and the safe contain- 
ing the treasury notes was never recovered. 

" A New York newspaper published the state- 
ment that the vessel had been wrecked by her 
captain, as part of a conspiracy to obtain pos- 
session of the treasure on board, that the safe 
which contained the Government notes had been 
found broken and empty, and that the captain 
of the Golden Rule and the other conspirators 
had bought a great deal of property, and paid 
for it with the lost notes. The Treasury De- 
partment waited six years before closing the 
Golden Rule matter. In that time, almost all 
of the other notes of the same issue had been 
presented for redemption; none of the thousand 
notes lost on the Roncador Reef had ever ap- 
peared. So the treasurer of the United States 
entered this million on his books among the notes 
destroyed. Not one of these notes has been pre- 
sented since, and there is no doubt of their com- 
plete destruction." 



The steamship Central America, Captain W. 
L. Herndon, was lost on September 12, 1857, 
a little more than four years before I came 
to the Isthmus. It was the most terrible dis- 
aster of its kind that has ever occurred on the 
route between the Isthmus and New York. The 
vessel sank in a fearful storm, off the coast of 
Florida. There were about 600 persons on 
board, passengers and crew, only 170 of whom 
were saved. Captain Herndon, who was an offi- 
cer of the United States navy, went down with 
his ship. 

Among the saved was the " Captain's Man," 
William Garrison, or " Garry," as he was bet- 
ter known, a colored man from Virginia, whose 
subsequent record is worthy of note. He was 
with Captain Dennis in the Golden Rule, when 
she was lost; with Captain Maury in the Bien- 
ville, when that ship was burned; and with Cap- 
tain Hildreth in the Guatemala, when that 
steamer was lost on Bird Rock — four disasters 
of the first class. He was represented as hav- 
ing conducted himself, upon all of these trying 
occasions, with great self-control and bravery, 
and rendered heroic assistance in saving life. 
For forty years he was a familiar figure on 
board the steamers, and it was only the other 
day that he went the long journey. 


Chapter Fill] 

Of steamers belonging to other lines on the 
Atlantic side several have been lost, including 
the Avon, Captain Rix, that went ashore at 
Colon, in the great norther of November 21, 
1862. She was one of the large steamers of the 
Royal Mail Company, and at 9 p.m. was lying 
tranquil at wharf No. 4. Two hours later, so 
suddenly came the storm, she was tugging at 
her fastenings, and soon broke away, going 
ashore on the coral reef, where she became a 
total wreck, and where the remains of her mas- 
sive machinery may be seen to this day. Her 
officers and crew reached land without loss of 
life. In the same great storm, the most terrible 
that has ever visited the port since the advent 
of the railroad, the steamship Ocean Queen 
was at the Pacific Mail wharf, and was saved 
by the bravery of Dr. R. J. Bailey, surgeon 
of the vessel, who volunteered to run lines by 
which she was enabled to work oiF and get out 
to sea. 

The United States sloop of war Bainbridge, 
Commander Dominick Lynch, and the United 
States naval storeship Falmouth were at anchor 
in the bay. When the morning of November 22d 
dawned darkly through the mist and roar of the 
storm, it was discovered on shore that both these 
ships were dragging their anchors, and the Bain- 



bridge was perilously near the reef in front of 
the present city of Cristobal. There was such 
a fearful sea running that it was thought impos- 
sible to render any assistance. The masts had 
been cut away, and her guns thrown overboard; 
yet she dragged and dragged, until the comb- 
ings of the mad surf on the reef were close under 
her stern. 

What was to be done? Two hundred and 
fifty gallant officers and men were there, at the 
mercy of the winds and waves, to be dashed to 
death and destruction, unless immediate aid 
could be rendered. 

One sees, occasionally, a display of heroism 
never to be forgotten. The Avon, by this time, 
lay high and dry on shore, and her brave Eng- 
lish officers and crew, who had just been in a 
life and death encounter with the elements, or- 
ganized a rescue party. Boats were quickly 
manned and sent out into that boiling caldron. 
I saw them as they toiled outward, at times 
swallowed in the gulfs, at times tossed on the 
summits of the spume-crested waves, until they 
came within hail of the Bainhridge, Then boat 
after boat came back to windward, laden with 
the rescued, until there was not a soul on board, 
and the ship was left to her fate. 

It was a wild time. All that day and for days 


Chapter VIII] 

afterwards there was no sun, while the break- 
ers " roared for men's lives " through a murk 
of milk-white mist blown in from the sea. In 
that single month of November, the unprece- 
dented amount of between forty-four and forty- 
five inches of rain fell in Colon. Dampness, 
mold, and rust penetrated everywhere and gloom 

Strange to relate, the Bainbridge did not go 
ashore after all. She held on, and when the 
storm was over was taken north, refitted, sent to 
sea, and never heard of again. It would have 
been better had she been wrecked upon that wild 
morning. The old Falmouth, her glory de- 
parted, was sold at auction to W. B. Johnson, 
who turned her into a collier. 

The Rhone, Captain Wooley, of the Royal 
Mail, was lost in the great tidal wave and earth- 
quake at the Island of St. Thomas, in 1867. 
The Shannon, Captain Leeds, went ashore on 
the Pedro Banks, between Colon and Kingston; 
the Tasmania was wrecked at Hayti, and the 
Moselle, Captain Russell, was lost near Point 
Toro, at the entrance to Colon harbor. They 
were all fine ships, but fate spared them not. 

The steamship European, Captain J. E. Cole, 
was blown up at the wharf in Colon, by " glonoin 
oil," afterwards known as nitro-glycerine. It 



was a terrible affair. A shipment of ten cases 
of the explosive, then a new discovery, had been 
made from a Continental port, for San Fran- 
cisco, without stating its nature in the bill of 
lading. The packages were stowed with the 
other cargo, and treated in every respect as 
though the contents were not extrahazardous. 
The European was a goodly ship, and her com- 
mander one of the best in the service. On April 
3, 1866, the work of discharging was going on 
busily at what is known as the freight-house 
or No. 2 wharf, when all at once, about 7 a.m., 
there was a tremendous explosion. It was as 
though an earthquake and a volcano in active 
eruption had been rolled into one. A kind Prov- 
idence saved me by a single moment. I was on 
my way to the same wharf, and within a hun- 
dred feet of the entrance, when a sheet of red 
angry flame shot upward to an infinite height, 
while the whizzing of fragments through the 
air was like that of a thousand bullets. The ef- 
fect was paralyzing. The roof of the vast 
freight-house, measuring 50 by 300 feet, and 
weighing 100 tons, was lifted bodily into the air, 
a distance of twenty or thirty feet, and came 
down with a tremendous crash, throwing down 
the end walls, and filling the whole interior space 
with wreck and ruin. 


Chapter Fill] 

A wild panic reigned. The mysterious na- 
ture of the agent of so terrible a disaster filled 
the coolest minds with a dread of the unknown. 
What was it? What was it? was asked, with- 
out the remotest power on the part of anyone 
to answer. And when it was ascertained that 
a large number had been killed (afterwards 
found to be about sixty), that the steamer was 
on fire, and that very likely a new and more 
terrible explosion would occur, the state of things 
can scarcely be imagined. 

Soon it became known that Captain Cole had 
been fearfully wounded on board; the explosion 
had wrecked the cabin entrance in such a way 
that he could not be reached, and he would be 
burned alive. Then a new horror: several of 
the waiters had been shut in, with no chance of 
escape. The ports of the cabins were too small 
for them to pass through, and there they were, 
their pale agonized faces framed as in an iron 
death. The steamship Caribbean, Captain Hoar, 
was in port ; also the Tamar, Captain Moir, who 
had been in command of the Trent when Messrs. 
Mason and Slidell were taken out of her by Cap- 
tain Wilkes of the U.S.S. San Jacinto, on No- 
vember 8, 1861. With some difficulty. Captain 
Moir was persuaded to make fast to the Eu- 
ropean, and tow her away from the wharf, lest 



the fire should spread, and also lest another ex- 
plosion should occur. 

The Caribbean had been considerably dam- 
aged by the explosion, being at the same wharf; 
but she was taken out into the stream, beyond the 
reach of danger. Then Captain Hoar returned. 
I can see him now, a tall, resolute man, cleared 
for action, giving orders, running lines with his 
own hands, and venturing into the very jaws of 
death, until he had succeeded in getting the burn- 
ing ship clear of the wharf, and away to the fur- 
ther side of the bay. Then the dreaded second 
explosion took place, and she sank beneath the 
waves, never to float again. Several packages of 
the explosive that had caused all this ruin had 
been already landed, and I remember the re- 
spectful manner in which they were after- 
wards handled. They were taken, with great 
care, out to the Monkey Hill cemeteries, and bur- 
ied (without prayers), where their terrible con- 
tents have no doubt long since become harmless. 


Chapter IX] 


nn HIS narrative is inclined to lap over, like 
shingles on a roof; or to fly to and fro, as 
memory recalls the motion of the hand weaver's 
shuttle in wondering childhood. In fact, it would 
be rather difficult to give a connected account of 
this kaleidoscopic Isthmus. Naturally, the af- 
fairs of the railroad company occupy the leading 
place; for until the road had been projected and 
built there was nothing. Panama was only an- 
other name for Nirvana. The Isthmus was a 
wilderness from shore to shore, when all at once 
it became a center of attraction as an interocean 
transit. The discovery of gold in California con- 
tributed largely to this end; but previous to that 
great event, the names of William H. Aspin- 
wall, Henry Chauncey, and John L. Stephens 
appear as originators and promoters of the rail- 
road enterprise. They took the first steps on 
general principles; they believed that a road 
across the Isthmus would pay ; but it did not en- 
ter their minds, nor the mind of living mortal, 
that their scheme would prove the dazzling 



bonanza it did. That was due, to a great extent, 
to the yellow nuggets picked up by the quiet 
Mr. Comstock, in the sluice of Sutter's Mill, in 
the year 1848. Indeed it is doubtful if the road 
could have been completed without the aid ren- 
dered by the '' Forty-niners," and their imme- 
diate following, during the next few years. The 
great rush made it possible. 

As Mr. Aspinwall had been prominent in 
everything relating to the success of the under- 
taking, it was decided to name the Atlantic ter- 
minus after him. It had been called Navy Bay, 
or The Bay, until February 2, 1852, when, ac- 
cording to Dr. Otis, Mr. John L. Stephens pro- 
posed to name the new town Aspinwall, so that 
" it should commemorate the services of one of 
the originators and unswerving friends of the 

The proposition was accepted with enthusiasm, 
and it was supposed that the name would be per- 
manently established ; but in this instance it would 
appear that the parent could not christen its own 
child. The Colombian Government decided that 
it should be called Colon, arguing, no doubt, that 
Christopher Columbus was a much greater man 
than William H. Aspinwall. The former had 
visited the bay in November, 1502, and had 
named it Bahia de los Navios. And although 


Chapter IX] 

Aspinwall was used very generally the world 
over, especially by Americans, for a good many 
years. Colon became the legal name. Even when 
the commission of an American consul for Aspin- 
wall was made out at the State Department in 
Washington, the Bogota Government refused an 
exequatur, on the ground that there was no such 
place in the country. It was perhaps an un- 
gracious act on the part of a friendly state; and 
it is probable that Secretary Fish so regarded it, 
since he would not have a new commission made 
out for the consul, preferring to send that official 
out as a commercial agent, for whom an exequa- 
tur would not be required. 

But of course all subsequent commissions were 
made for Colon, as the right of Colombia to label 
all towns within her territory had to be con- 

For a time, Colon-Aspinwall, and Colon 
(Aspinwall) were written and printed; and a 
funny thing happened, if a wreck can be called 
humorous. A captain strange to the port came 
sailing in one day, before the strong trades, and 
to the surprise of all who saw him, held his 
course straight away past the lighthouse and the 
wharves, full sail. People looked and wondered, 
and shouted — in their riiinds — "What, ho! Sir 
Mariner, whither away do you sail so gallant 



and so gay? Do you imagine that this spanking 
breeze through the Lesseps Canal to the South 
Seas will take your brigantine? 'Tis our belief 
that you will soon be piled up on the reef! " 

And sure enough he was! Vessel and cargo 
were a total loss. Captain and crew were saved 
with great difficulty. It was thought that the 
skipper must be insane; but on questioning him, 
the cause of his strange conduct was plain as 
day. On his chart was " Colon- Aspinwall "; and 
was not Aspinwall after Colon? "Vat ish der 
madder?" said he, and could not be convinced 
of his error. He had found Colon all right, and 
was simply steering for the other place when he 
struck. He was an honest old chap; the disas- 
ter was put down as a peril of the sea, and his 
insurance paid. 

Later the Colombian postal authorities gave 
notice that mail matter addressed to Aspinwall 
would not be delivered, but would be sent back 
to the places whence it came. Thus, finally, the 
present name has been adopted, although for a 
long time, in the United States especially, the 
old name was better known. 

There is another memorial of Columbus be- 
sides the name of the town. It is a beautiful and 
costly bronze, whose history may be of sufficient 
interest to be related. It was cast at Turin, 


Chapter IX] 

Italy, for the Empress Eugenie, while she was 
still in power, and was presented by her to the 
Republic of Colombia, to be erected at Colon. 
The figure of Columbus is of heroic size, in the 
attitude of protecting, with his right arm, a 
naked Indian girl who crouches by his side. 
With his left hand he is apparently making a 
gesture of appeal or explanation. The coun- 
tenance is noble and benign ; while the face of the 
Indian maiden expresses wonder, with a mixture 
of alarm. 

The group was allowed to remain in its case, 
on wharf No. 5, for two years, until, in October, 
1870, Sir Charles Bright came to Colon to land 
the cable that was to give us our first telegraphic 
connection with the world. Mr. E. C. DuBois 
was then superintendent of the road, and in 
order to kill two birds with the same stone, he 
obtained the permission of the Panama Gov- 
ernment to unpack the statue, and set it up as 
part of the celebration arranged in honor of Sir 
Charles and his cable. 

A hasty pedestal, not more than two or three 
feet high, was built of brick, among the tracks 
of the railroad yard at Colon, and the group 
placed thereon. 

October 22, 1870, was the day appointed for 
the double event — the landing and the unveil- 



ing — and all the dignitaries of the Isthmus were 
invited to be present. General Buenaventura 
Correoso was then President of Panama. He 
came over with his suite, accompanied by the 
Catholic bishop of Panama, and a crowd of nota- 

But alas! there was a rain that day, the like 
of which the oldest inhabitant could not remem- 
ber. It was a deluge. The people gathered, at 
least the few whose enthusiasm was waterproof, 
under umbrellas, around the statue, while the 
bishop offered prayer, and President Correoso 
delivered an oration. The writer of these 
sketches was to have read an address, but did 
not. There was a sudden adjournment — and 
champagne. Landing day was indeed a wet 
aiFair ! 

Sir Charles Bright was a genial gentlemen, 
given to festivity when occasion permitted. He 
gained his title of knighthood in recognition of 
services rendered as an electrician of great skill, 
when the first Atlantic cable was laid between 
America and Europe, in 1866. 

Thus, since October, 1870, the Panama Isth- 
mus has been in cable communication with all 
the world. Afterwards a Pacific line was opened 
from the city of Panama north and south; and 
now there is another cable, via Guantanamo, be- 


Chapter IX] 

tween Colon and New York, besides a wireless 
station at Colon, so that facilities have been in- 
creased immensely, and the public benefited ac- 

In regard to the bronze group of Columbus 
and the Indian maiden: when Count de Lesseps 
arrived to inaugurate the Panama Canal, at the 
end of 1879, as he was of kin to the French Em- 
press, and desired to glorify her and himself as 
much as possible, he asked and was granted per- 
mission to remove the monument from the rail- 
road yard to the entrance of the new canal town, 
now known as Cristobal. 

Later it was once more removed, to the point 
near the Atlantic terminus of the canal, where 
it now overlooks the ships that come and go dur- 
ing the period of construction, and will even- 
tually mark the entrance and exit of the fleets 
of the world's commerce to and from the great 
interoceanic waterway. 

After the town had been named Colon, a feeble 
tripartite effort was made by the railroad com- 
pany to honor W. H. Aspinwall, in connection 
with two other leading spirits in its origin, Henry 
Chauncey and John L. Stephens. A three-cor- 
nered monument was erected to their memory, 
in front of the Washington House, on the 
beach at Colon looking northward. It is lack- 



ing in dignity, and has no artistic merit. Upon 
a low pedestal of gray stone is- placed a shaft 
of red granite about fifteen feet high, with 
a triangular section near its base, upon which the 
busts of the three men are sculptured. They bear 
a strong family resemblance to each other. It 
has been remarked that the company of which 
they were the founders, and which owed them 
so great a debt, might have left them alone rather 
than have placed so unsatisfactory a memorial 
in that spot. 







" 1 / 

" , 





















^^^K V'lr 













Chapter X] 


TN June, 1864, I was granted the customary 
''■ leave of absence, and went home by the old 
steamship Illinois, Captain Babcock — a passage 
keenly enjoyed. One of the compensations of 
Isthmian life has been these occasional voyages. 
During my forty-six years on the Isthmus I have 
made nearly one hundred single voyages between 
Colon and New York, besides several in other 
directions — to California, Peru, the West India 
Islands, New Orleans, and Europe. 

After a residence of a year or two in the hot 
and wet climate of the Isthmus a change is most 
desirable, if not absolutely necessary. The sys- 
tem becomes debilitated, and unless one can get 
away, one is likely to go the long journey prema- 

It is a great pleasure to recall these various 
outings, as well as the steamers and most of the 
captains thereof. Several, belonging to early 
times, have been already mentioned. To these 
I would add the names of Captain S. L. Clapp; 
Captain G. W. Shackford; Captain J. W. 



Philip, U. S. N., who was for a time in one of 
the Pacific Mail steamers; Captains Lima, Por- 
ter, Lockwood, Conner, and many others on the 
New York ships. Then there were brave old 
Captain Robert Woolward of the Royal Mail 
Southampton line, who wrote and published 
" Nigh on Sixty Years at Sea," an interesting 
account of his life; Captains Leeds and Rivett, 
all dead; Kemp, who was lost in the Douro; 
Powles, Constantine, killed in the Kingston 
earthquake, Milner and Jelicoe. 

Of the West India and Pacific (Liverpool) 
Line there were Commodore Watson, who died 
and was buried at Cartagena; Captains King, 
Miller, W. S. Wallace, George Post, Bremner, 
Baker, Kiddle, Sandrey, Hoar, Peter, Bertie, 
and Winder, Lund, James, and poor Shacklock, 
lost with his ship, the Nicaraguan, 

Of the Atlas Company there were Captain 
Williams, lost in the ill-fated Alvo; Captains 
Sansom and Hughes. 

On the Pacific coast were Commodore Wat- 
kins, and Captains Farnsworth, Lapidge, Brad- 
bury, Connolly, Jack Caverly; and more recent- 
ly. Captains Fraile, Searle, Johnson, Russell, 
White, Pitts, Chapman; and Taylor, who was 
lost in the Colima, 

Nothing can give greater enjoyment to one 


Chapter X] 

who is fond of the sea than a few days of that 
sense of detachment, of isolation, of absolute and 
utter sloth, one is sure to feel far away from the 
land, where only the great waves meet. The 
New York voyage is especially pleasant, for it 
leads among the Bahama Islands, Cuba, Hayti, 
and Navassa; the last lying like a gem at the 
entrance to the Caribbean. Here is an extract 
from an old letter, in which an account was given 
of a passage out in the steamship Acapulco, Cap- 
tain J. W. Philip, in 1875: 

" The evening we passed Navassa was the most 
beautiful and memorable of all. We approached 
the little isle just at sunset, and passed very 
near it, on the eastern side. The western sky 
was particularly splendid, with its gorgeous col- 
orings and grand cloud shapes, and when, from 
the bridge, whither the captain had invited three 
or four of us, the view opened past the south end 
of the island, a scene was revealed to be long 
remembered. The dark form of the island in 
the right foreground, vessels at anchor upon the 
smooth water close inshore, clouds of all hues 
overhead and in the faraway west, while a space 
of clear golden sky marked the place where the 
sun had gone down beyond the sea. Flocks of 
pelicans crossing this clear space, in long lines, 
as they are used to fly, sharply defined against 
the gold, completed the picture. An artist might 
have drawn inspiration therefrom for a great 



painting, save that no painting would seem natu- 
ral with so gorgeous coloring. After we were 
well past the island, Captain Philip fired three 
rockets from the bridge, in the gloaming, which 
were answered from shore, and gave a holiday 
ending to the scene." 

In contrast with this peaceful sunset, at a 
later time, on board the Newport with Captain 
W. G. Shackford (who has just died, Novem- 
ber, 1907), at the same place, a cyclone of the 
first magnitude was encountered. Navassa was 
passed about the same hour in the evening as 
before, and we steamed away into the blackness 
of darkness that covered the Caribbean in the 
southwest as with a funeral pall. The sea 
had begun to show its rage before night closed 
in. There was a feeling of awe on board that 
might easily have been heightened to one of 
alarm and panic. Among the passengers was 
Mr. Michael Grace, of W. R. Grace & Com- 
pany, on his way to Peru. He had only recently 
recovered sufficiently from a terrible accident to 
walk with the aid of crutches. He and I were 
sitting in the captain's room, after the black night 
had shut down, sharing as far as landsmen could 
the anxiety of the able commander of our ship. 
The latter showed us his cyclone chart, and ex- 
plained the wonderful circular action of those 


Chapter A^] 

terrors of the deep, coolly saying: " Now I will 
poke her nose into this thing up to eight bells " 
(eight o'clock p.m.) " and if it gets any worse I 
will try and get her out of it the best I can. And 
if she don't turn over in the attempt we will then 
head her for home, and give her all the steam 
the boilers can supply for a few hours, and see 
if we can run away from what appears to me to 
be a terrible kickup down here." 

At that moment a sea struck the ship with such 
violence that Mr. Grace, who was on the wind- 
ward side of the spacious cabin, was hurled clear 
across against the other side. Yet he escaped 
with only a big scare, and seemed none the worse 
for the tremendous shock. 

Before eight bells Captain Shackford saw that 
he must get out, as he had said, " the best he 
could." The Newport was turned round at the 
risk of being turned over by the wild force of 
wind and wave. It was the first and only time 
that I have seen frightened passengers at their 
prayers. But the fleet vessel outran the storm, 
and by morning the cyclone had passed onward 
to Jamaica, the western end of Cuba, and across 
the Mexican Gulf, to ravage the Texan coast. 

During and after the war years 1861-65 
there were almost always war ships in Isthmian 
waters. At one time I had the coal agency for 



the United States Government, and this brought 
me often in contact with officers of the service, 
among whom I had many friends. The men- 
of-war at Panama, as well as those on the At- 
lantic side, drew their supplies from Colon. The 
fleet paymaster stationed at Panama for a time, 
with whom I had many dealings, was Charles 
Murray, one of the kindest and best men that 
ever lived. Associated with him were Fleet Pay- 
master J. B. Rittenhouse and Fleet Surgeon 
Charles D. Maxwell, both attached to the Pacific 
squadron, but permitted to live on shore. All 
have since passed away, full of years and hon- 
ors. Their memory is dearly cherished. 

Later we became sincerely attached to Cap- 
tain (afterwards Rear- Admiral) George Henry 
Preble, whose name has been mentioned in con- 
nection with the Golden Rule rescue. When the 
news of President Lincoln's assassination came, 
he was on the Colon station, in the old urgency 
steamer State of Georgia, one of the fleet of 
side-wheeled merchant vessels that had been 
transformed into war ships during the Civil War. 
I had taken, with Captain Preble, by his invi- 
tation, a week's excursion to Cartagena. We 
had met there, by chance, the De Soto, then in 
command of Commodore (a little later Rear- Ad- 
miral) Charles S. Boggs, U. S. N., and had 


Chapter X] 

greatly enjoyed ourselves. The officers of both 
ships were entertained in various ways; and my 
sincere friend, the lamented American Consul 
August Hanaberg, gave a breakfast worthy of 
Delmonico, to which about thirty sat down. 

On the vessel's return to Colon, all the flags 
of the shipping and of the town were observed 
to be at half mast. Much wonder was expressed 
at this; but not until our vessel had anchored 
and the harbor boat came off did we learn that 
the President of the United States had been 
cruelly murdered, at Ford's Theater in Wash- 
ington, on the night of April 14, 1865. This 
terrible news struck our party dumb. With 
blanched faces one looked at another, in speech- 
less wonder, as if it were impossible to grasp the 
truth. Captain Preble was the first to recover 
from the paralysis. With face pale as death and 
voice filled with emotion, he issued a call for all 
the officers and men to come upon the quarter- 
deck. As soon as they had assembled he told 
them the tidings, with feeling so deep and con- 
tagious that no man present could restrain his 
tears. Of all the eulogies of Lincoln the world 
over, not one could have been spoken with greater 
eloquence and earnestness. At its close, as I 
remember it, he said: '' The sudden spur of this 
great crime, by which our nation has been so 



cruelly bereft of its beloved head, urges me to 
charge you, standing here upon this deck, amid 
these guns, beneath that starry flag, under a for- 
eign sun, now and here, most solemnly to renew 
your sacred vows to defend and love and worship 
home and country, as though you were kneeling 
before the altar of high Heaven, in the awful 
presence of God." 

Admiral Preble was a man of deep learning. 
He wrote a " History of the Flag of the United 
States," a large volume of more than eight hun- 
dred pages, requiring great industry, patience, 
and varied knowledge. He also wrote a " His- 
tory of Steam Navigation," a quarto of 480 
pages. It is a complete and valuable account 
of the introduction and development of steam 
power upon the sea. I have autograph copies 
of both works. 

He became Rear- Admiral and commanded the 
Pacific fleet, with the Omaha as his flagship. 
After his retirement he lived at Brookline, Mass., 
where he died March 1, 1885. 

Of other Rear- Admirals, United States Navy, 
who came to the Isthmus, either in command or 
in transit, the following are remembered with 
pleasure: James F. Schenck, who with Charles 
S. Boggs commanded merchant steamers in the 
old Chagres days, as detached officers of the 


Chapter X] 

United States Navy; John L. Worden, J. B. M. 
MuUany, Reed Werden, George H. Cooper, J. 
J. Almy, Lewis A. Kimberly, Stephen B. Luce, 
A. E. K. Benham, John Irwin, Oscar F. Stan- 
ton, and Bichard W. Meade. 

Admiral Almy's flagship, the old Lancaster, 
was in Panama Bay at the breaking out of the 
local revolution of October, 1873, when General 
IViera was President of the State of Panama, 
and General Correoso was trying to oust him. I 
was then in charge of the Panama Railroad, as 
acting superintendent. The morning after the 
news came that a revolution had broken out, an 
American war vessel that had arrived in the 
night, was seen at anchor in Colon harbor. I 
sent off an early note, addressed to the com- 
manding officer, informing him of what had oc- 
curred, and requesting him to stand by. The 
reply came back that Commander W. B. Cush- 
ing, U. S. N., of the Wyoming (or Wild 
Woman, as the negro messenger reported the 
ship ! ) had been sent to Colon by his government 
for the protection of American interests. He 
would most certainly obey his instructions, and 
would land a Gatling gim, with a force of ma- 
rines, at once, if necessary. He added that he 
would be on shore at ten a.m. 

It will be readily supposed that a message of 


this kind, from so brave and determined a man, 
gave great satisfaction. As promised, Com- 
mander Gushing landed at ten o'clock, and after 
consultation it was decided that we should go to- 
gether, by the afternoon train, for a conference 
with Admiral Almy. We went over accord- 
ingly, and spent the night on board the flag- 
ship, where the plan of action was resolved upon. 
A force was to be landed at once, at Panama, 
to take possession of and hold the railroad sta- 
tion. As there had been an attempt to interfere 
with the transit, it was also decided to send a 
guard with each train. To all this the govern- 
ment in power at the Panama Cabildo readily 

Commander Cushing and myself returned to 
Colon next day. The rebels, or outsiders, were 
besieging Panama, but were reported to be short 
of ammunition. There was a very uneasy feel- 
ing among foreigners as to how matters would 
turn out. The sympathies of many of the natives 
who had not joined the revolution seemed to be 
with the rebel leader, who was, and is to this day, 
one of Panama's favorite sons. This led to a 
probably well-grounded suspicion, on the part of 
General ISTiera's government, that the rebels 
were receiving clandestine aid. General Niera 
therefore wrote me, as superintendent in charge, 


Chapter X] 

an official letter stating his belief that such was 
the case, and urging that the trains be duly 
inspected before leaving Colon, to see that there 
was nothing contraband on board. Orders were 
at once given to have this done, and the next 
morning, sure enough, a capture was made, in 
the following manner: 

The late Mr. Cespedes was very anxious to 
ship ten barrels of flour to Panama, saying that 
the people there were on the verge of starvation. 
If he had sent the barrels in without manifest- 
ing special interest in the matter, they would 
most likely have been shipped and delivered all 
right. But he was so fussy, and so anxious that 
the car containing the flour should go by the 
morning train, and lingered so persistently to see 
the car locked up, before he would turn his back 
upon it, that suspicion was aroused, and instead 
of being sent away, the car was quietly put one 
side, where in the course of an hour or two the 
innocent-looking barrels were probed, and every- 
one found to contain something that did not be- 
long there. A large quantity of cartridges for 
the rebel guns was fished out and safely locked 
up in the company's vault, to await further de- 
velopments. The flour was then sent forward to 
the disgusted consignee. 

This put an end to the struggle, and in a few 


days the " outs " laid down their arms, were par- 
doned, and returned to their homes, and one Pan- 
ama revolution, at least, had a floury end. 

Commander Gushing ached for a chance to 
have a scrimmage, but it did not occur. He was 
a born fighter, with an eye like steel, and a cour- 
age that never faltered. He knew no such word 
as fail. He was the hero of the most daring and 
brilliant exploit of the American Civil War — 
the destruction of the Albemarle, on the night of 
October 27, 1864. That brave act gave him 
worldwide fame. He died at an early age, De- 
cember 17, 1874, in the city of Washington. 


Chapter XI] 


IV/f R. DAVID HOADLEY was president 
"^ of the Panama Railroad Company from 
1853 until October, 1871, eighteen years, when 
he resigned the position, and Mr. Joseph F. 
Joy, the secretary, was elected to the vacancy. 
Mr. John Keeler, who had been head book- 
keeper since 1856, was made secretary, and Mr. 
Henry Smith remained, as he had been for sev- 
eral years, the treasurer of the company. 

The Brig Line, as it was called, formed a 
part of the railroad company's assets. It was 
organized soon after the road was completed, in 
1855, and was composed of a line of ten sail- 
ing vessels between New York and Aspinwall, 
until 1870, when the business was transferred to 
the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. These 
sailing vessels, barks, and brigs of from 250 to 
400 tons, made regular and rapid voyages, 
laden with general cargo. They usually came 
and went either by the Mona or the Mariguana 
Passage, or by Turk's Island, and often made 
the round trip within thirty days, including the 



time of loading and discharging. They were 
important as feeders to the Isthmian transit. 
Their names were the Idaho, Bolivia, Xantho, 
American Eagle, Magdalena, Bogota, Costa 
Rica, Arabella, E. Drummond, and Caroline. 

I was agent on the Isthmus for these vessels, 
in connection with the fiscal agency of the com- 
pany, under the title of fiscal and shipping 
agent. This brought me much in contact with 
shipping interests and details, as well as with sea- 
faring men, who perhaps of all others have 
excited greatest curiosity, in and out of books. 
A strange lot! I have known a crew to stay 
by and work faithfully until almost the hour 
of sailing, when without apparent cause they 
would desert in a body, often leaving pa}^ and 
dunnage behind. This would give rise to diffi- 
culty and delay; for unless they could be found, 
arrested, and brought back to their duty, a new 
lot must be shipped in their places. To find a 
new lot was not always an easy matter. At 
times beachcombers are plenty in every impor- 
tant seaport, but at other times they are scarce 
as hen's teeth. On such occasions, I am sorry 
to say, "larceny of the person," as it may be 
called, was not infrequent on the part of cap- 
tains of such vessels. If another craft in port 
had a crew, means of approach were invented, 


Chapter XZ] 

generally at night. While the two skippers were 
taking an evening glass in the cabin, and going 
through the formalities of leave-taking, after 
the nautical manner, the mate of the deserted 
vessel would be with his boat under the bows, 
where a rope would dangle for Jack to slide 
down upon. In this way many a crew has been 
transferred. The vessel outward bound would 
sail before dawn, and the captain of the other 
would fill the morning air with an odor of brim- 
stone; but if the two captains ever met again, 
all would be forgiven over a glass of grog. 

Casualties on this line were infrequent. Not 
one of the vessels was ever wrecked, although 
the bark Magdalena^ Captain Whiteberry, was 
captured and burned by the Confederate ship 
Alabama, during the war. Captain Peel of the 
brig Costa Rica was washed overboard and 
drowned on the passage out from New York. 
His first mate, R. R. Searle, brought the vessel 
through to Colon, and was appointed captain 
by the United States Consul, to take her home 
in place of Captain Peel. He afterwards joined 
the Pacific Mail Company's service on the Pa- 
cific side, and later became commodore of the 

Mr. Joseph F. Joy, as secretary and man- 
ager, was very much interested in these vessels, 



until they were disposed of as stated. The re- 
lations between us were close and cordial. His 
death occurred at the residence of his son, Dr. 
H. S. Joy, surgeon of Sailors' Snug Harbor, 
Staten Island, in his eightieth year, April 11, 

The year 1868 was the most prosperous in 
the history of the railroad company. The spider 
saw that year the last of its unbroken web, for 
the Pacific Overland road at the north, and the 
Straits steamers at the south, from that date 
took away its prey to a marked extent. It was 
difficult to believe that success so golden could 
be so soon checked. In order to illustrate this, 
I will copy here from the Annual Report of the 
Panama Railroad Company for 1868: 

Total receipts from all sources $4,337,668.48 

Total expenses, including the new 

Colombian subsidy $2,030,185.52 

Four quarterly dividends of six per 

cent each on $7,000,000 1,680,000.00 

Surplus 627,482.96 



These are interesting figures. The statement 
is simplicity itself. Perhaps in all railroad his- 
tory nothing more remarkable can be found. 
Forty-seven miles of track had earned four and 


Chapter XI] 

one-third millions of dollars, and after deducting 
generous expenses, had paid twenty-four per 
cent dividends on $7,000,000, besides adding 
over $600,000 to the surplus. Three years later, 
or about two and a half years after the com- 
pletion, on May 10, 1869, of the Overland to 
California, according to the yearly statement for 

The receipts were $1,284,418.98 

Total disbursements exclusive of dividends 997,875.44 

Surplus $286,543.54 

There had been a falling off in the annual 
total income, compared with 1868, of over $3,- 
000,000; and in net receipts available for divi- 
dends and surplus, of no less than $2,307,482.96, 

In April, 1872, Alden B. Stockwell, a bold 
Wall Street speculator, conceived the idea of 
capturing the Panama Railroad. Loot was sup- 
posed to be the object. He obtained a sufficient 
number of proxies to control the annual election 
of directors for that year, and made himself 
president of the company. The old regime of 
respectability was ended, and Panama shares 
became another Wall Street football. A little 
later, in 1874, Russell Sage made himself presi- 
dent of the company; and soon afterwards 
Trenor W. Park obtained control. The latter 



was elected president, and in 1880 held a con- 
trolling interest in the shares, when the Panama 
Canal Company, through M. de Lesseps, bought 
68,534 of the 70,000, at $250 per share. 

The total receipts of the railroad company, ac- 
cording to its annual reports, from the first earn- 
ings until the end of 1898, 

From all sources were $94,958,890.36 

Expenses 57,036,234.46 

For dividends $37,922,655.90 

It will not be denied that this has been a good 
average financial result, extending over a period 
of nearly fifty years; but there is no doubt that 
it could have been far more favorable. During 
the earlier portion of the time the dividends, as 
we have seen, were very large; but under the 
fatal policy, then inaugurated and never aban- 
doned, of not looking to the future, later years 
were wellnigh disastrous. Mismanagement, es- 
pecially after the road came under French con- 
trol in 1881, was proverbial. 

The sale of the railroad shares to the Canal 
Company did not change the charter nor the 
domicile of the company. In fact, the charter 
of April 7, 1849, from the State of New York, 
under which the company was organized, ex- 
pressly says, in Section 3: 


Chapter XI~\ 

*' The Directors shall be annually chosen at 
such time and place in the City of New York, 
and on such notice as shall be directed by the 
by-laws of the said Corporation." 

Under the original charter the capital stock 
of the company was restricted to $5,000,000 ; but 
on April 12, 1855, an " Act to Amend " was 
passed by the New York Legislature, authoriz- 
ing an " increase of capital stock from time 
to time; so, however, that the whole capital of 
the company shall not exceed the sum of seven 
millions of dollars." 

After the sale of the shares to M. de Lesseps, 
for account of the French Canal Company, there 
was much talk of removing the offices from 
New York to Paris; but the discovery was 
made that it would be necessary to maintain the 
American organization. The French owners of 
the shares, however, dictated to the American 
directorate created by them the policy to be 
pursued; but so far as the public was concerned, 
there never was any visible evidence that the 
road had passed out of American control. 

Trenor W. Park retired after the sale of the 
Panama Railroad shares to the French Canal Co. 
had been completed, and General J. G. McCul- 
lough was elected president of the company, hold- 
ing the position until the election of General John 



Newton in 1888. The vacancy created by the 
death of the latter, May 1, 1895, was filled by 
Mr. J. Edward Simmons. In the same year 
Mr. George Whaley was sent from Paris, by 
the shareholders, as vice-president and general 
manager, to carry out their views. When he 
retired, Mr. Charles Paine was selected to fill 
his place. 

In 1868 William Parker, who had been su- 
perintendent of the road on the Isthmus since 
the beginning of 1861, was murdered by James 
L. Baldwin. The latter has been favorably men- 
tioned in the earlier part of this narrative. He 
served the company faithfully and well during 
the construction of the road, and retired with 
honor. After a few years he desired to reenter 
the service, and in consideration of his former 
standing and importance, the company sent him 
to the Isthmus to fill a sinecure position, with the 
title of assistant engineer. It was soon observed 
that he had been greatly changed by dissipation, 
although in deportment he was still a gentleman. 
He conceived a prejudice against Superin- 
tendent Parker, and openly threatened him with 
violence. Baldwin's many friends deplored his 
conduct, and tried to influence his actions, but 
never suspected that he might be insane. 

On the morning of the murder, September 

Chapter XI~\ 

24, 1868, Parker was to leave Colon by the train 
for Panama, en route for San Francisco. Ar- 
rangements had been made to leave E. C. Du- 
Bois, who had recently arrived from New York, 
in charge of the road, as acting superintendent. 
This did not please Baldwin, and he behaved 
so strangely that William Nelson and Perez 
Turner of the official staff, came from Panama 
the night before, to prevent by their presence 
and friendly influence any possible display of 
violence. The next morning, Parker, Baldwin, 
Nelson, Turner, and Du Bois walked together 
to the railroad office, where Parker was to take 
the train. Everything was quiet. No word or 
act of Baldwin gave warning of his murderous 
design. He was cool and silent. The party 
went through the office to the front balcony, and 
sat down. After a moment Parker rose, went 
in to his desk, and was writing when Baldwin 
followed. Before the other three gentlemen 
were aware of his intention, he had fired the shot 
that killed his victim as he sat in his chair. 

Baldwin then attempted suicide with the 
same weapon. He fell and was supposed to be 
dead, but the ball did not penetrate his brain. 
Restored to consciousness, he was removed to 
the hospital, where he hngered for several 
weeks. At last, one stormy night, there was a 



report that he had died, and that his remains 
had been taken to Gatun Station, seven miles 
away, for burial; but no one could be found to 
vouch for the statement. A steamer left port 
in the darkness of that night, and suspicion 
grew into the accepted tradition that James L. 
Baldwin did not die at Colon. 

The remains of Mr. Parker were buried in 
the foreign cemetery at Panama; where the 
rather startling announcement may be seen, 
carved on his gravestone: 




Chapter XII] 


^^ drew from the Panama Railroad to assist 
in building the Oroya Railroad, that climbs 
15,000 feet in the 104 miles, between Callao 
and the Andean smnmit, over which it passes to 
reach the famous Cerro de Pasco silver mines 
and the upper Amazon. He was succeeded by 
Colonel Alexander J. Center, the trusted chief 
of earlier days, now reappointed, and again 
placed in charge. By this time it had become 
necessary to reduce expenses to meet the changed 
fortunes of the road. The Brig Line was with- 
drawn, and by a new adjustment of official du- 
ties and relations, I was made assistant superin- 
tendent, the shipping agency having ceased. I 
was still fiscal agent or local treasurer, under the 
new name. 

Colonel Center, though no longer young, was 
always ready for whatever amusement might 
come along to color the monotony of Isthmian 
life. In this he was seconded by Mr. William 
Nelson, commercial agent at Panama. Both had 



the sense of humor and love of fun well devel- 
oped, and nothing suited either better than to 
see other people enjoy themselves. It therefore 
often happened, as had been the case under 
former superintendents, that excursions were 
given, and other diversions planned for the pur- 
pose of driving dull care away. When it is re- 
membered that there were no roads other than 
blind trails leading into the surrounding wilder- 
ness, no pleasant country resorts easily reached 
in which to spend a few leisure hours, the diffi- 
culties in the way of taking little trips will be 
better understood. 

The island of Taboga formed a favorite re- 
sort. This beautiful island, twelve miles from 
Panama, looking toward the South Seas, lies in 
the " open door " to that Pacific wonder world. 
It has three miles of coast line, and is nearly 
round, with an elevation of about fifteen hundred 
feet. The summit is destitute of trees, but is al- 
ways green, while its lovely slopes and many ra- 
vines are clothed with luxuriant tropical verdure. 
Springs bubble from its rocks, and babble down- 
ward to the sea. The hamlet or village is very 
quaint. It has no regular streets. The houses, 
which have roofs of tiles or palm-leaf thatch, 
walls of mud-plastered wild cane, and earth 
floors, are scattered up and down as though of 


Chapter XII^ 

spontaneous growth, like the jungle by which 
they are surrounded. 

They toiled not, neither did they spin in that 
happy island, but lived in contented idle isola- 
tion, without newspaper, steam engine, tele- 
graph, or any other modern invention. The cli- 
mate is perfection; and people often went there 
from Panama for a change. The French Canal 
Company built a big sanitarium or convalescent 
hospital there later, superbly situated above the 
sea, to which the United States fell heir. 

At an earlier date a rumor reached Panama 
that a supply of coal had been deposited upon 
the island of St. Elmo, the most distant of the 
Pearl Island group, for the use of Confederate 
privateers. It was said that the Shenandoah, 
in command of Captain Waddell (who after- 
wards lost the Pacific Mail steamer San Fran- 
Cisco), would coal there, and then make things 
lively in and around the Bay of Panama. To 
combine duty with pleasure, an excursion was 
arranged with great secrecy, and away we went, 
on board a small steamer, to ascertain the value 
of the rumor. The night was spent at Gonzales, 
one of the Pearl Islands, owned by a pearl mer- 
chant named Steffins, who had a comfortable 
residence there, at which our surprise party was 
hospitably entertained. 



Next morning we steamed leisurely, through 
the lovely archipelago, to St. Elmo. It was a 
small island, green from water's edge to sum- 
mit; and without an inhabitant save the pelicans, 
one of which I shot and took home for a souvenir. 
We circumnavigated the island close in shore, 
but found no Confederate coal. Was it a relief? 
It would be difficult to say. As all men are more 
or less fond of a sensation, it is my impression 
that there was a feeling of disappointment when 
it was known that the rumor was false. 

After the war, General Daniel E. Sickles — 
a hero of Gettysburg, where he lost a leg — paid 
a visit to the Isthmus, on his return from an im- 
portant mission to Bogota. An excursion was 
planned in his honor to the sugar plantation of 
the Bayano Company, of which the late Dr. 
Kratochwil was manager. It was something 
new to us all to see a sugar estate in working 
order on the Isthmus. Some of us had shares 
in it (have them yet!), and all were interested 
in the experiment. 

The Bayano is a fine broad tidal river or estu- 
ary that empties into the Gulf of San Miguel, 
near the Pearl Islands. It forms the Pacific 
end of what was known as the Kelly, or San 
Bias, or Bayano route for a ship canal. The 
distance is shorter than that of any other route, 


Chapter XII] 

being only thirty miles from sea to sea; but 
there is a barrier 700 feet high to be overcome. 
About twenty miles from its mouth, land level 
as the sea, and rich beyond comparison, had been 
selected for the cane fields. A hundred acres 
or more had been cleared and planted, the canes 
had grown with marvelous luxuriance, and the 
promise was splendid. Already the mill had 
been busy for a season or two, with satisfactory 
output; but lack of labor killed the enterprise 
later on. 

To this industrial oasis in the tropical wilder- 
ness, our jolly excursionists made their way. 
The boat arrived in the evening; and the next 
day was devoted to an examination of the estate 
and to the pleasures of the table. The festive 
board, although roughly spread, had its charms 
for our guest, as well as for the rest of us. 
What appetites! And if the expression may be 
permitted, what drinkitites! Then what a brave 
sight to see General Sickles mounted on a fine 
horse (he had brought his special saddle with 
him), for a gallop through the plantation, in 
company with some of the bolder caballeros of 
our party, who enjoyed it like cowboys! 

I remember a ball given by Captain Kennedy 
and his officers, on board her Majesty's ship 
Reindeer, in the Bay of Panama. The rarity of 



the event, and the popularity of the captain, were 
sufficient to crowd the quarter-deck with a 
charming party. Nothing could have heen 
more brilliant and fairylike than the improvised 
ballroom among the guns. It was indeed a 
bower of beauty, with its gay bunting, palm- 
branch arches, vine-wreathed columns, and flow- 
er-framed vistas. 

Among those present was the then rather 
widely known Madame Seacole, an Afro-Eng- 
lish woman who had been, it was said, an assist- 
ant to Florence Nightingale in the Crimea. 
She wore a number of decorations, and pat- 
ronized, more or less, those whom she knew. A 
queer, quaint, jolly, . vain, self-important old 
brown woman, long since gone " where the good 
darkeys go." Said she, one day, to a lady: " If 
you could see me, madam, under my dress, you 
would be surprised how white I am. It is ex- 
posure to the air that makes my face and hands 
so brown." She had forgotten her curly locks 
and Dark Continent features. 

On the Atlantic side, Porto Bello, or Chagres 
with its old fort San Lorenzo, or a day on the 
river, or " up the Line," helped to make the time 
pass more quickly. And sometimes a circus — 
Orrin's or Gardner's — would land on these be- 
nighted shores; lucky if it were not stranded be- 


Chapter XII^ 

fore it could move on. A menagerie once gave 
notice in its bills that, as a special attraction, a 
goat — a live William goat — would be fed to a 
bloodthirsty lion, in order that the patrons of the 
show might have the lively satisfaction of seeing 
the lion eat up William! That night the crowd 
was tremendous; the negroes went wild. The 
other part of the performance was soon ended, 
and the people were eager for the tragic finale. 
The goat was brought in, with ribbons flutter- 
ing from his horns, and was duly introduced to 
the lion in his cage. Poor goat! he would soon 
be torn limb from limb, and devoured to a thrill- 
ing accompaniment of growls and roars, mixed 
with low sad music by the band! 

But how is it that the king of beasts takes 
things so mildly? He walks over to the goat, 
sniffs at him, and with a disgusted shake of his 
mane, as if to say, " That is quite enough for 
me!" walks back again, and lies down in his 

That was the end of it: the lion did not hurt 
the goat. Seldom has tragedy been more sud- 
denly and completely turned into farce. 

Sometimes the Ice-House, which was an " In- 
stitution " in those days, would give a dance and 
supper; or the Washington House would be 
loaned the railroad young men for a frolic; or a 



picnic would be improvised for the other side of 
the bay, where the day would be spent in hunting 
Venus shells along shore, or wandering wonder- 
ingly under the cocoanut palms, or the great 
trees a little farther inland, reminding one of 
Stanley's African " high woods." 

The presence of the steamer Virginius, in 
1872, caused considerable excitement in Colon. 
She was an American side-wheeler of about a 
thousand tons, and was suspected of being a Cu- 
ban filibuster. She had been lying at anchor in 
Colon Harbor for some time, closely watched 
by the Spanish war ship Pizarro, when on April 
26th, protected by the United States gunboat 
Kansas, under Lieutenant-commander Edwin 
White, she put to sea. It was announced that 
the Pizarro would not permit the Virginius to 
leave port. On the other hand, it was known 
that her papers were all right and in order, as 
of an American trading vessel, and that United 
States Consul Charles Erasmus Perry had been 
instructed to protect her at all hazards. 

In the meantime it became known that the 
small, pale, quiet, well-dressed, beardless, gray- 
haired man, who had been seen about the streets 
of Colon during the last few weeks was Captain 
Frank Bowen, who would take the Virginius 
to sea. 


Chapter XII^ 

Everything was ready for the departure of 
the vessel on the day above mentioned; and as 
the Spanish commander still expressed his reso- 
lution to arrest her, and had been warned by the 
plucky young commander of the Kansas that he 
had better not, it may be imagined that excite- 
ment ran high on shore. I remember Consul 
Perry's pallor and agitation when he came back 
from a final visit to the Virginius, calling on 
board the Kansas, en route. He reported that 
the guns of the latter ship had been shotted, her 
decks sanded and cleared for action, and every- 
thing made ready for a fight. 

This was about 9 a.m. Directly afterwards 
the Virginius got under way, and steamed close 
under the stern of the Pizarro, when Captain 
Bowen was observed to raise his hat in salute 
of her captain from his own bridge. Then the 
Virginius was up and away, the Pizarro follow- 
ing closely, with the Kansas like " a hound 
behind." The three steamed out in line, the 
black smoke pouring from their funnels in great 
clouds; but there broke upon the stillness of the 
summer air no booming thunder of guns! All 
Colon had rushed to the beach to see the battle, 
but the vessels soon disappeared below the hori- 
zon, and the show was ended. The Virginius 
easily ran away from the others, and made the 



harbor of Cartagena, and later Cura9oa, where 
she was again detained for a long time, and 
where Captain Bowen had the good judgment 
to leave her. 

Later she was under the command of Captain 
Fry, was captured, October 31, 1873, by the 
Spanish war steamer Tornado, and taken to San- 
tiago de Cuba. She had on board, counting the 
crew, 170 persons, all of whom were held as pris- 
oners; and about a hundred, including Captain 
Fry and the brave young American general, 
Washington Ryan, were shot. 

Captain Bowen was picturesque and interest- 
ing. After the affair of the Virginius he re- 
turned to Colon, and was for a time agent for 
the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. He also 
had charge of the Howard House for JMrs. Su- 
san H. Smith. I had many opportunities for 
learning his history, which, as so often happens, 
were for the most part neglected. He was the 
son of a prosperous New York merchant, and 
enjoyed superior educational and social advan- 
tages when young, but was the family black 
sheep, and ran away to sea. His brother. Rev. 
George Bowen, was a missionary in Bombay, 
where he died in 1888. He is represented to 
have been " one of the most remarkable mission- 
aries of his century." 


Chapter XII] 

This is mentioned to show what fearful fam- 
ily contrasts may sometimes exist; for among 
other things, Captain Frank Bowen had been a 
slaver and ideal pirate. He was commander and 
owner of the bark Nightingale, engaged in the 
slave trade; and after several successful voyages 
to Cuba, with large profits, that vessel was cap- 
tured, in 1861, on the coast of Africa, by the 
United States war ship Saratoga, with 1,149 
black slaves on board. 

As he told the story, the Nightingale was 
boarded by an officer who was a Southerner and 
slave owner, and who allowed him to escape from 
his cabin, through a stern-port, down a rope, into 
a boat that took him on shore. He did not re- 
main long on the African coast, however, for by 
the end of 1861 he made his way in the disguise 
of a sailor to Boston, where he first learned that 
a reward of $5,000 had been offered for his cap- 
ture and delivery, alive or dead. This made it 
so warm for him in his native land that he con- 
trived to escape to Havana, where he had ac- 
counts to settle for " goods " previously deliv- 
ered, and where he remained until the excitement 
was over. He then went scot free, as it could not 
be proven that he was on the Nightingale at the 
time of her capture. He had the distinction, such 
as it was, of being the last of the slave traders. 



He spoke besides his native tongue, French, 
Spanish, and Portuguese, and was well read in 
history and fiction. He possessed the born in- 
stinct of a wanderer, and 

" For to admire an' for to see, 
For to be 'old this world so wide," 

appeared to have been in every nook and corner 
of the globe. His adventures had been count- 
less. When in confidential mood, he would be- 
gin: "When I was in Paris," or "When the 
ship I was in went ashore on Borneo, and I fell 
captive to the savages of that island," or " When 
I was in the chain-gang in Valparaiso," or 
" When I landed in San Francisco in '49," 
or " When we were boarded by Chinese pirates 
off Chef 00 " ; and would spin wondrous yarns, 
in which license and freebootery seldom failed 
to be conspicuous. 

He could be kind and cruel, generous and self- 
ish, credulous and skeptical, logical and utterly 
irrational, romanticist and pure realist, good and 
bad, all in the same brief hour. With it all he 
possessed a keen and cultivated intelligence, was 
refined in his tastes, pleasant in address, blandly 
unconscious of depravity, cheerful in temper, 
fearless, cynical in his attitude toward the world, 
witty if not wise, cool as the west wind, and the 


Chapter XII] 

last man on earth that a stranger would suspect 
of the crimes and misdemeanors he so freely con- 
fessed and appeared to regard with satisfaction. 

A character to rival Barry Lindon or Mar- 
grave, and superior to Rawdon Crawley or 
Count Fosco, he would have been a treasure to 
Marion Crawford or Conan Doyle. 

At the last he insisted that as God is good, 
pardon, not punishment, would be his portion, 
and repeatedly asserted his belief in a future and 
better world. He left the Isthmus, and his old 
friends lost sight of him. It was said he had 
gone into permanent retirement and was writing 
sermons ! His death is reported to have occurred 
only a few years ago. 




A S before stated, at the annual election in 
-^^^ April, 1874, Russell Sage made himself 
president of the Panama Railroad Company, 
and turned the management over to Rufus 
Hatch, assisted by J. B. Houston. Colonel Cen- 
ter was rudely retired from the position of su- 
perintendent on the Isthmus, and a Mr. Corwine 
put in his place. At the same time a raid was 
made upon the fiscal agency, of which I had 
charge, in the expectation of finding something 
crooked. " How can it be possible," reasoned 
Rufus Hatch, " that a man in charge of millions 
of dollars, during a series of years, in an out-of- 
the-way place like Colon, without ever having 
been required to give security, has conducted him- 
self with entire integrity? " From his point of 
view the supposition was absurd. After a sharp 
legal struggle, in which it appeared that Rufus 
Hatch had made a serious mistake, Mr. Trenor 
W. Park, when he obtained control at the next 
annual election, gave orders that the matter should 
at once be settled. Accordingly, on August 25, 


Chapter XIII] 

1875, the directors of the Panama Railroad Com- 
pany passed and placed on record a resolution, 
by which I was " exonerated from all charges," 
and the affair was ended. 

The removal of Colonel Center in a manner so 
abrupt was without justification. No man in 
any position connected with the road was ever 
held in more genuine respect. 

He was born at Hudson, N. Y., on August 
8, 1808. At ten he was sent to Paris, to a mili- 
tary school, and in 1822 entered the United 
States Academy at West Point, from which he 
graduated in 1827. He served in the United 
States Army until 1837, and held the rank of 
first lieutenant when he resigned and took up 
the profession of civil engineer. Later he joined 
the service of the Panama Railroad Company on 
the Isthmus. He was a member of the Century 
Club of New York. He died at Tarrytown, 
N. Y., November 2, 1879, at the age of seventy- 

The marriage of one of his daughters, in 
Colon, at the end of 1872, to Mr. Middleton, of 
Hongkong, was a brilliant social event. 

His son, Alexander Center, also lived in 
Colon, and after several years passed in the Ori- 
ent became general agent of the Pacific Mail 
Company in San Francisco. 



For the next two years, from April '74, per- 
haps the least said about the railroad mismanage- 
ment the better. The impression that loot was 
the main object was confirmed, after the retire- 
ment of Rufus Hatch, by the first report to the 
president and directors, made by Mr. Brandon 
Mozley, as general superintendent. It was dated 
March 7, 1877. Mr. Mozley had been placed 
in charge on May 25, 1876, just two years from 
the time that Colonel Center was relieved. In 
the document mentioned Superintendent Mozley 

" Whereas through the year 1875, and early 
part of 1876, the claims made upon us for lost 
and damaged freight amounted to a very large 
proportion of the earnings of the road, it is now 
a rare thing for goods or packages to be miss- 

There can be no better proof than this that 
the Hatch-Houston regime had developed the 
noble art of robbery to a marked extent. 

But Mr. Mozley was not the man to put up 
with that sort of thing. In continuation of the 
report above quoted he said: " The total amount 
of claims for which this company is liable, dur- 
ing the last six months, will not, so far as I can 
ascertain at present, exceed $1,000." He had 
set vigorously to work to stop the thievery that 


Chapter XUI^ 

was going on; and he added: " I am glad to say 
that our force of employees, which has been 
greatly reduced and weeded out, is now com- 
posed of steady, sober, respectable men, who are 
faithful in the performance of their duties; and 
that no waste or extravagance can be found in 
any department." 

No more thieves, no more drunkenness, no 
more employees outside the pale of respectabil- 
ity ! It had become high time for reform. 

A little longer, and there would have been left 
only the two traditional trails of yellow rust, to 
show where the railroad track had been! 

One day a switching engine in the Colon yard 
blew up. A few days later. Engineer Blixt came 
limping into town, " with a sort of sickly smile," 
from the Fox River swamp, and reported that 
while under way with his train, all at once his 
engine went up twenty or thirty feet into the 
air, and landed clear of the track in the swamp. 
He had crawled out of the wreck with only a 
few scratches and bruises. 

Investigation revealed the fact that the engi- 
neer of the switching engine was incompetent 
— a cheap man; and the comment made at the 
time was that it would not be long before the 
whole road would be wrecked. People were 
afraid of it. 



But under Mr. Mozley, although a strict econ- 
omy was practiced — too strict, some said — the 
road was brought back from the ragged edge 
of ruin. He was a man " with a history," but 
for all that, like Jim Bludsoe, in John Hay's 
ballad — 

" He seen his duty, a dead-sure thing. 
And went for it thar and then." 

And again, as Mark Twain is reported to 
have said about his first baby, if people didn't 
love him, they respected him. His memory 
was of that capacious and tenacious kind which 
enables its possessor to retain, for immediate 
use, whatever odds and ends of practical infor- 
mation accident or design may have charged 
it with. He had a Napoleonic look, with a 
severity and reticence in keeping with the char- 
acter. His early death (from cancer) at San 
Francisco, while agent there for the Pacific Mail 
Steamship Company, a few years ago, was much 

Mr. H. A. Woods succeeded Mr. Mozley as 
superintendent. While the former was still as- 
sistant superintendent, in November, 1879, there 
came a flood in the Chagres unprecedented in 
the history of the road. In three days the river 
rose forty-six feet, and the iron bridge at Bar- 


Chapter XIII] 

bacoas was so disabled that traffic was inter- 
rupted for six weeks. One of the great piers 
in midstream had been undermined and dis- 
placed, and it was a wonder that two of the six 
100-foot spans of the bridge had not fallen 
into the river. It was a narrow escape; but 
through the energy and engineering ability of 
Mr. Woods, who had been given entire charge, 
the pier was finally, after six weeks of incessant 
toil, coaxed back to its former place, and traffic 
was resumed. Many thousands of tons of mer- 
chandise had accumulated at either terminus, 
during the interruption, so that great incon- 
venience and a considerable loss of business were 
the result. 

It was during the administration of Mr. 
Woods that the great gold robbery occurred at 
Panama, the mystery of which has never been 
explained. The United States ISTavy had shipped 
two kegs of gold coin, each containing $50,000, 
from New York to Panama, for the use of its 
Pacific fleet. The money arrived at Panama 
station late in the evening of December 31, 1882; 
and instead of being delivered immediately, was 
placed in the railroad company's vault, to be kept 
until called for. The next day being New 
Years, the delivery was postponed until Janu- 
ary 2d, when the loss of one of the kegs was 



discovered. Of course there was much excite- 
ment. Mr. G. A. Burt, then agent at Panama, 
was absent at Colon, and the keys of the vault 
were in the possession of one of his clerks; but 
there was no proof against him or anyone 
else. Still something had to be done. Fifty 
thousand dollars in gold ought not so easily 
and so entirely to have disappeared in a place 
like Panama — from which the means of exit were 
few — that no trace of it could be discovered. 
Therefore a number of arrests were made on 
general principles, without even a well-grounded 
suspicion in a single instance. Seven young 
men, all American citizens, were thrown into 
prison, where they were detained eighty-five 
days; but the able and untiring United States 
Consul-general, Thomas Adamson, was active 
in their behalf, and they were finally released, 
without there having been the remotest scrap of 
evidence that anyone of them had been connected 
with the disappearance of the gold. 

What became of it? That question has not 
yet been answered, although a quarter of a cen- 
tury has passed. One of Pinkerton's best detec- 
tives was brought out to Panama and remained 
several weeks searching for testimony, but when 
he left he acknowledged himself beaten. No 
clew had been discovered, and he could form, 


Chapter XIII] 

he said, no intelligent opinion as to where the 
money had gone. And thus the matter rests to 
this day. Occasionally one hears: 

" Who got the $50,000 of Uncle Sam's gold? " 
and the invariable reply: " Quien sabe? " 




TN the year 1877 Lieutenant Lucien Napoleon 
-'■ Bonaparte Wyse of the French navy, ac- 
companied by M. Reclus of the same service, and 
others, came from Paris to Panama, for the os- 
tensible purpose of making surveys for an inter- 
oceanic canal. The party spent several months, 
during that and the following year, in alleged 
examinations of the Panama Isthmus. In 1878 
Lieutenant Wyse obtained from the Colombian 
Government, on the strength of his so-called sur- 
veys, a concession for excavating a canal between 
Colon and Panama, along the Chagres Valley, 
and through the continental divide traversed by 
the Panama Railroad. 

Then, as part of the scheme that had been 
conceived in France, the International Canal 
Congress of May, 1879, was called together in 
Paris, and through the influence of M. de Les- 
seps, the Panama route was adopted. Ten mill- 
ion francs was the sum paid, or to be paid, to 
Lieutenant Wyse and his associates, for the con- 
cession obtained from Colombia, and for their 


Chapter XIV] 

Isthmian surveys. A company was at once 
formed, with M. de Lesseps at its head, and 
called La Compagnie Generale du Canal Oce- 
anique de Panama. On December 30, 1879, 
M. de Lesseps, accompanied by his wife, three 
children, and a large party, including sev- 
eral engineers of note, arrived at Colon from 

Preceding events had caused much excitement 
on the Isthmus; and when this party arrived 
there was considerable public enthusiasm. 

As one of a committee of reception, I went on 
board the steamer to welcome the distinguished 
gentleman and his associates, through whom the 
fortunes of the Isthmus were to be established 
upon a basis of pure gold. As is customary in 
such cases, there were speeches, followed by the 
informalities and cordialities of welcome. M. de 
Lesseps responded very pleasantly, wearing the 
diplomatic smile for which he was noted. He 
was then over seventy years of age, but was still 
active and vigorous: a small man, French in de- 
tail, with winning manners, and what is called 
a magnetic presence. When he spoke, the hearer 
would not fail to be convinced that whatever he 
said was true, or at all events that he believed 
it to be true. Thus, during the reception and 
the conversations which followed, he would an- 



swer every inquiry in regard to the canal in the 
readiest and most amiable manner, and would 
invariably conclude vi^ith the assertion: 


As an instance, the question was asked: 
" What will be done with the Chagres River? '' 
To which he immediately replied, as though the 
subject had been fully considered and decided 
upon: "It is the intention to turn the upper 
river into the Pacific Ocean, thereby relieving the 
lower valley of all danger of floods." He added, 
" This can be done without great expense. 


Why the plan then announced was never at- 
tempted has not been explained. It is believed 
by many to be entirely practicable. The confi- 
dence manifested by M. de Lesseps was great, 
and there could be no doubt about the sincerity 
of his aims. He was committed to the scheme, 
fully believed in it as a great and good scheme, 
entirely possible of realization, and it is my opin- 
ion that from first to last he was perfectly con- 
scientious and honest. 

I am aware that the world at large does not 
take the same view. The question need not be 


Chapter XIV] 

discussed, nor need anything be added here to 
the ah'eady voluminous hterature of this famous 
industrial failure. That M. de Lesseps was an 
enthusiast ; that he did not possess the administra- 
tive abilities required for so great and so diffi- 
cult a work; that he was too old, too eager, too 
vain of the glory it would add to his already 
great reputation; too easily imposed upon by 
men whose first aim was plunder; too ill a judge 
of character to fill with success a place of so 
great responsibility; that he lacked practical 
knowledge, and was always wrongly advised — 
all these things may be admitted: but when all 
is said, he was not sordid, not the impostor his 
enemies declare him to have been. 

The mistakes made were many, first and fore- 
most of which was undoubtedly the short time 
fixed for the completion of the canal. Six years 
was to be the utmost limit, and four years was 
talked of with confidence as the term it would 
require; while it would have been wise to fix the 
least time of preparation at five years, and the 
end of the work at fifteen, or even at twenty 

That was rock number one. Then the fatal 
plan of replacing each manager with an untried, 
inexperienced man, full of new plans and im- 
possible notions, every few months, wrought per- 



petual havoc with any approach to system. No 
sooner would one chef get well seated than he 
would be unhorsed, and another would mount the 
unruly and at last unmanageable steed. Each 
one carried the enterprise forward at a gallop 
toward the inevitable. Not one of them ap- 
peared to have any least idea of economy of ad- 
ministration, but each plunged on as though 
money were an unconsidered trifle. This idea 
was readily communicated to the rank and file. 
It seemed well established that only one man 
should be employed when and where it would be 
possible to employ two. There can be no doubt 
that a spirit of venality and corruption per- 
vaded almost the entire service. This in turn 
was not slow to spread beyond the service itself, 
and to debauch (there is no other word for it) 
the whole Isthmian community. From the time 
that operations were well under way imtil the 
end, the state of things was like the life at 
" Red Hoss Mountain," described by Eugene 

"When the money flowed Hke Hkker . . . 
With the joints all throwed wide open *nd no sheriff to demur! " 

Vice flourished. Gambling of every kind, and 
every other form of wickedness were common 
day and night. The blush of shame became prac- 


Chapter XIF] 

tically unknown. That violence was not more 
frequent will forever remain a wonder; but 
strange to say, in the midst of this carnival of 
depravity, life and property were comparatively 
safe. These were facts of which I was a constant 
witness. This was the condition of things that 
the coming of M. de Lesseps, accompanied by 
his charming wife, led to: this^ and dismal fail- 
ure. But the book of fate revealed no picture 
of the kind upon that bright day, at the end of 
1879, when they landed at Colon. 

On the morning of January 1, 1880, the party 
was convoyed by the aforesaid reception com- 
mittee as far as the broken bridge across the 
Chagres, at Barbacoas, halfway to Panama, 
where it was safely transferred, was met by the 
Panama Committee, and taken by another train 
to its destination. 

There was a banquet that night, at George 
Loew's Grand Hotel, in Panama, at which the 
only lady present was Madame de Lesseps, who 
sat beside her distinguished husband, and gave 
eclat to the occasion. She was at that time a 
woman of striking beauty. Her form was vo- 
luptuous, and her raven hair, without luster, con- 
trasted well with the rich pallor of her Eastern 
features. She was a native of Mauritius, many 
years younger than M. de Lesseps, to whom she 



had borne, in his old age, a numerous family of 
beautiful children, dark as Arabs and as wild. 
Three of them came with their parents ; and when 
they arrived at Colon they knew no restraint. 
They were dressed alike, and it was difficult to 
determine their sex. The supposition was, how- 
ever, that they were girls, as their costume fa- 
vored that idea. Monsieur and madame walked 
with me to my residence, and on the way the chil- 
dren were on the rampage, trying to climb every 
stanchion or post they came to, and otherwise 
showing their high spirits. I said, " Madame, 
your little girls seem much delighted to be on 
shore again. It is a pleasure to see them so 

" Two of them are boys," madame replied ; 
" and the other one, her father's pet, thinks she 
must do whatever she sees her brothers do." 

Later, the photograph of the entire family, 
father, mother, and nine children, much resem- 
bling an Arab sheik and his brood, became fa- 

The stay of the party on the Isthmus was brief. 
M. de Lesseps visited San Francisco, Chicago, 
and New York, before returning to Paris, and 
was everywhere received with marked attention; 
although the American people took no share in 
the canal enterprise. 


Chapter XIF] 

The first visit of M. de Lesseps was followed 
by a second one, after an interval of a year or 
two. By this time there was great activity all 
along" the line. Contractors swarmed, and work 
had been, in some cases, actually begun. In or- 
der that the enterprise might have the blessing 
of Heaven and be officially inaugurated at the 
same time, with that gayety so dear to the French 
heart, a numerous audience was invited to Em- 
pire Station on the line, to witness the good 
Bishop of Panama bestow his benediction upon 
the great undertaking; and then to see what 
dynamite could do in the way of blowing up 
a few hundred thousand cubic meters of rock 
and earth, along a part of the canal where 
tons of that explosive had been placed for the 

Was it prophetic? The blessing had been 
pronounced, and the champagne, duly iced, was 
waiting to cool the swelter of that tropic sun, 
as soon as the explosion " went off." There the 
crowd stood, breathless, ears stopped, eyes blink- 
ing, half in terror lest this artificial earthquake 
might involve general destruction. But there 
was no explosion! It wouldn't go! Then a hu- 
morous sense of relief stole upon the crowd. 
With one accord everybody exclaimed " Good 
gracious ! " and hurried away, lest after all the 



dynamite should see fit to explode. It was fiasco 
number one. 

M. de Lesseps was a fine horseman, delight- 
ing in the most " fiery untamed " that could be 
found. He would ride over the rough country 
through which the canal had been or was being 
located, all day, would then dance all night like 
a boy, and be ready for the next day's excursion, 
" fresh as a daisy." In these and in other ways 
he gave evidence of remarkable vitality and 
endurance. His good nature, and the optimism 
of his character, were phenomenal and unfailing. 
Nothing ever seemed for an instant to dampen 
the ardor of his enthusiasm, or to cloud the vista 
of that glorious future which he had pictured in 
his imagination. 

It will always seem a sad pity that this grand 
frangais came to grief as he did, and that his 
old age was darkened by the clouds of disap- 
pointment and failure. It was his misfortune 
rather than his fault. Those who desire to read 
the statements and counter-statements, and all 
the mass of accusation and recrimination to 
which this stupendous failure gave rise, will have 
to look elsewhere. No attempt will be made here 
to shed light upon so much darkness. It is prob- 
able that the money spent — if it had been hon- 
estly expended, not squandered through indiff er- 


Chapter XIV] 

ence, incompetence, haste, conflict of authority, 
ignorance of conditions, and worst of all, by 
greed and dishonesty in high places and low — 
would have sufficed to make the canal. Disaster 
was brought on by lack of the cardinal virtues 
of energy and integrity. 

The failure came in 1888. It is true that work 
on the canal never quite ceased, since it was nec- 
essary under the Concession from Colombia that 
a show of life should be kept up. Vast sums had 
been raised in France, principally from small 
subscribers among the thrifty lower classes, 
whose hard savings had been freely poured into 
the sievelike treasury of the canal company. 
More, more, more! had been the constant cry; 
but when at last, in the summer of 1888, M. de 
Lesseps, accompanied by his son Charles, made 
the tour of the rich southern French provinces, 
he appealed in vain. There was no more money 

When the news reached the Isthmus, it was 
like a stroke of paralysis. Few believed that the 
disaster would be more than temporary, but all 
too soon it became evident that the end had come. 
Then followed a sort of chaos, in which the 
broken fortunes of the many stood in sharp con- 
trast to the good luck that prudence had se- 
cured to the few. It was a rude awakening to 



the fact that hay must be made while the sun 
shines. Improvidence, as usual, bore bitter fruit. 

More than 20,000 laborers were left without 
the means of subsistence or of escape from 
the Isthmus. They were nearly all Jamai- 
cans. A few took to the jungle, and made prim- 
itive homes for themselves, under the rude shel- 
ter of which they did not fear starvation, in a 
land so fertile; nor could they, under a tropic 
sun, suffer from lack of clothing. But the larger 
number were repatriated at their country's ex- 
pense, as the canal company disavowed all re- 
sponsibility. Steamers were chartered, and sev- 
eral thousands were taken back to Jamaica. 

The true greatness (as well as profligacy) of 
the canal enterprise is shown by the following 
statement, derived from a reliable source, of the 
amount expended: 

At Panama £31,330,937 

At Paris 15,628,066 

For the Panama Railroad 3,730,727 

Lottery scheme 1,290,587 

Paid the RepubHc of Colombia 98,203 


Equivalent to $260,000,000 United States gold. 

Only about one fourth of the tide-level canal 

had been accomplished — a dismal result! The 


Chapter XIV] 

time had not come. Though the great French- 
man failed, and the smiset of his hf e was clouded 
with scandal and disappointment, the echo of his 
voice it still heard, and there is no room for doubt 
that at last 





T^ROM the midst of this confusion one enter- 
•'■ prise stands out in conspicuous contrast to 
all the others. Good work was performed here 
and there, by this contractor and that, but it was 
reserved for the American Contracting and 
Dredging Company (the only American con- 
cern connected with the canal) to gain the credit 
of having virtually completed the first section, 
of about thirteen miles from the Atlantic end. 

The channel dug by the dredges of that com- 
pany still shows for itself. With the exception 
of a few places where the depth had been 
lessened by deposits from the floods of rainy 
seasons, there was water sufficient for any 
steamship that visited Colon up to the year 
1888. The banks stood remarkably well, and in 
general appearance this portion of the canal, 
amounting to one fourth of its entire length, 
conveyed the impression of being in every way 
fit to serve the purpose for which it was in- 

The history of this dredging company, com- 




Chapter XV] 

monly known as the Slaven Company, is like a 
romance. The two brothers, Henry B. and 
Moses A. Slaven, were born in Canada. They 
both began life for themselves when very young 
— the former as skilled pharmacist, the latter 
as mechanical engineer. When the Panama 
Canal was talked of, H. B. had the finest drug 
store in San Francisco; while M. A. was in 
active business in the same city. They heard 
about the great contracts to be let, and deter- 
mined to have, a finger in the canal pie. H. B., 
who was the younger of the two, with an au- 
dacity akin to inspiration, made bids for several 
miles of excavation, although he knew nothing 
of that kind of work. The bids were accepted, 
and he at once entered upon the organization of 
his company. 

The other brother, M. A., furnished the me- 
chanical knowledge, and it was not long before 
the first of their great dredges was built and sent 
out from New York, in which city the ofiices of 
their company had been established. The mon- 
ster machine had hardly arrived at Colon, how- 
ever, before it took fire and was burned to the 
water's edge, leaving only a great ungainly 
wooden hull. This loss was greater than their 
joint possessions; yet nothing daunted, they went 
on building and sending out other dredges, until 



a fleet of seven powerful excavators was at work, 
and the company's fortunes were assured. 

At first the insurance companies refused to 
take risks on the dredges for the voyage to 
Colon. It was even difficult to secure a compe- 
tent man who would go on board the towing 
steamer, and superintend taking them out. But 
the Slaven brothers had the good fortune to meet 
Captain Sam Clapp, a mariner of the first class, 
who had the courage to try the doubtful experi- 
ment. The machines were like immense wooden 
tanks, square at both ends, about a hundred feet 
long, fifty feet wide, and with no more sailing 
qualities than a house. So long as the sea re- 
mained smooth, no trouble was experienced; but 
towing one of them in a storm was quite another 
thing. Only one at a time could be taken out. 
Captain Clapp related that on one voyage, when 
he was about halfway to Colon, the Atlantic 
thought it would have a little sport with him. 
He was on the towing steamer, while only two 
men were on the dredge, to look after the lines, 
and to enjoy as best they cojild a voyage of that 
peculiar nature. Rough weather came on, with 
a furious westerly gale, the great hawsers parted, 
and the dredge went drifting stormily toward the 
African coast. There was very little prospect 
that she would ever be caught. The man who 


Chapter XV] 

had command of the towing steamer made sev- 
eral ineffectual attempts to come up with her, but 
lacked the nerve necessary to accomplish that 
rather delicate deep-sea maneuver in the pres- 
ence of a hurricane. Over and over again he 
would bring his steamer near, but never near 
enough to get hold of her, as she was tumbled 
and tossed almost end over end by the wild At- 
lantic greybacks. 

Then, although it was rank mutiny. Captain 
Clapp said, in tones befitting the occasion: 

"Give me command; and I'll catch that 
bloomin' dredge, or sink the whole blank-blank 

He took the wheel, in spite of the vigorous 
remonstrances of his skipper, and next time 
round he came close enough alongside the dere- 
lict to heave a line on board, and his tow was 
brought through and delivered in good order at 

All of the dredges were brought out safely, 
and after the first one there was no trouble about 

These machines were wonderful combinations 
of labor-saving appliances. They surpassed in 
size and differed in construction from anything 
of the kind ever seen elsewhere. They were so 
nearly automatic that one of them could be op- 



erated by a dozen men, under an intelligent cap- 
tain and chief engineer. The principal engine 
turned the great wheels by which the endless 
chain of buckets — each one of which would hold 
a cubic meter — were kept moving. Then there 
were several smaller engines, always ready for 
use: to move the dredge forward; to sway her 
from side to side; to hoist and lower the great 
legs or spuds by means of which she walked step 
by step into the material to be excavated ; to run 
the powerful force pump that conveyed to the 
top of the tower streams of water, with which the 
earth taken up by the buckets, and emptied into 
a great hopper, was washed away through pipes 
three or four feet in diameter, extending far 
away on either side of the canal; and for other 

The towers were from fifty to seventy feet 
high; and I often climbed one and another, 
and stood fascinated and thrilled upon the sum- 
mit, watching what seemed more like some in- 
telligent antediluvian monster revived, than a 
mere modern excavator, at work on the Panama 

Two other men, besides Captain Clapp, who 
were employed by the Slaven Company deserve 
especial mention. They were Crawford Doug- 
las and Nathan Crowell: the former in general 


Chapter XF] 

charge, the latter as chief mechanical engineer. 
Without the faithful, intelligent devotion of 
these two, it may well be doubted if the work 
performed had been so effectual. Both pos- 
sessed a high order of skill and enthusiasm, as 
well as the physical stamina and endurance that 
carry men through great stress and strain. It 
was no holiday affair, for much of the time the 
dredges were busy every hour of the twenty-four. 
Upon these two men, who are no longer living, 
came the principal burdens. Besides these. Cap- 
tains Ward, Morton, Bard well, and others ren- 
dered important service. 

The success of the Slaven Company, though 
phenomenal, was justly won. I should not like 
to state, at this distant time, what were the av- 
erage earnings of each of the dredges; but even 
at the cheap rate per cubic meter at which their 
contract was made, the profits were large; as all 
who owned shares soon had cheerful cause to 

Unfortunately, M. A. Slaven died before the 
contract was ended. H. B. went bravely on, 
however, and when the canal company failed, 
had managed affairs so well — in fact, with so 
great financial genius — ^that he had become rich 
" beyond the dreams of avarice." 

Associated financially with the Slavens was 


the late millionaire-banker, Eugene Kelly. The 
story of their connection is characteristic, and 
may be told here without impropriety. In the 
earlier days of the enterprise difficulties swarmed, 
and the young contractors became embarrassed. 
Another powerful capitalist had broken faith 
with them, and there was danger of losing all. 
In this crisis H. B. Slaven — a perfect stranger 
— went to Mr. Kelly, at his modest banking 
house in Exchange Place, New York, and told 
him — no doubt with great earnestness and sin- 
cerity — just how they were situated. The 
shrewd old gentleman listened attentively, and 
said at the end : 

" Young man, go away and put all that into 
writing. Send it to me, and you may come for 
an answer the day after to-morrow." 

It may be imagined with what anxiety the 
" young man " penned his statement and awaited 
the result. At the appointed time he called 
upon Mr. Kelly, who without circumlocution 
asked : 

" How much money do you require to get 
yourselves out of present difficulties? " 

" About thirty thousand dollars." 

" And how do you propose to secure the pay- 
ment of so large a sum? " 

" By a deposit of the shares of our company, 

Chapter XV] 

at a price to be agreed on; the same to become 
your property, in case you elect to keep them." 

"Well, sir, I have decided to help you; you 
can have my check for that amount. Report to 
me how you get on. Good day! " 

Before Mr. Kelly received a dollar in div- 
idends he had advanced $200,000. Then the 
returns came pouring in at an astonishing rate. 
There is little doubt that each share paid its 
lucky owner at least 400 times its par value. 
In one instance, it was said that the original 
holder of 1,000 shares, which cost him very little, 
sold them for $10,000; and that dividends 
were afterwards paid on these same shares 
amounting to $400,000, before the affairs of the 
company were wound up. So if it is kept in 
mind that the original shareholders came in at 
next to nothing per share, it may be seen how 
rich a bonanza was the American Contracting 
and Dredging Company, with Henry Barthol- 
omew Slaven at its head. His early and lament- 
ed death occurred December 2, 1904. 

After the suspension of work on the Panama 
Canal, in 1888, the great dredges of the Amer- 
ican company were sold to the Maritime Canal 
Construction Company of Nicaragua, but were 
never used, although they were all taken safely 
to San Juan del Norte (Greytown), except the 



one named Ferdinand de Lesseps, Whether the 
name had anything to do with it or not I need 
not discuss; but she was lost on the voyage be- 
tween Colon and her destination. Fate could 
not permit the name of Lesseps to be associated, 
even in a dredge, with the projected canal of 
Nicaragua ! 


Chapter XFI] 


\/r DE LESSEPS and his advisers believed 
•*■"*■• it necessary that the canal company 
should control the Panama Railroad, by owning 
a majority of the shares. In that way and no 
other could the many difficulties arising out of 
the contract of the railroad company with Co- 
lombia be solved, and the canal be allowed to go 
ahead. Negotiations were therefore begun, and 
a sale of shares was made, under an agreement 
between certain stockholders of the Panama 
Railroad Company and the Universal Inter- 
oceanic Canal Company. This agreement was 
dated June 10, 1881, and provided that the canal 
company should pay $250 for each and every 
share of $100 par value, which the aforesaid 
" certain stockholders " might be willing to sell; 
that a cash bonus of $1,102,000 should be paid to 
the directors of the road; while it went without 
saying, that in purchasing the shares the canal 
company assumed the payment of all outstand- 
ing indebtedness. 

Sixty-eight thousand five hundred and thirty- 


four out of the 70,000 shares of the railroad com- 
pany were sold under this agreement ; so that the 
cost to the canal company stood thus: 

68,534 shares at $250 per share $17,133,500 

A cash bonus of 1,102,000 

SterHng bonds 4,000,000 

Other bonds 3,000,000 

Total $25,235,500 

Payments for these shares were to be made, 
one sixth cash and five sixths in five annual pay- 
ments, with six per cent interest. The shares 
were deposited with the United States Trust 
Company, New York, under this agreement, to 
be held in trust until all the payments had been 
made, then to be delivered to the canal company, 
and not before. All moneys due or to become 
due to the Panama Railroad Company, to June 
30, 1881, were to belong to venders; so that the 
total cost of the railroad, including commis- 
sions, etc., to the canal company may be stated 
as $25,500,000. 

This sale was one of the great deals for which 
Wall Street has now and then been noted. It 
was successfully engineered by Mr. Trenor W. 
Park, who was then president of the railroad, 
and owner of a majority of the shares, which he 
had been sufficiently shrewd to purchase at or 


Chapter XVI] 

below par during the depression following the 
remarkable diversion of traffic from the Panama 
transit, through various causes already specified. 

The career of Mr. Park affords a bright and 
shining illustration of the facility with which 
great fortunes have been made during the last 
fifty years. 

Born in Vermont, without fortune, he became 
at an early age a smart country lawyer. When 
gold was discovered in California, or soon after, 
he made his way to San Francisco, where he 
found a congenial field for the exercise of his 
talents. He soon became known in the infant 
city for professional daring, and hosts of clients 
came pouring in, with bags of gold dust to pay 
his fees. The shining metal lighted the way to 
immediate prosperity. 

Among the large affairs with which he became 
identified, and from which a golden harvest was 
gathered, was the once famous Mariposa Estate, 
that belonged to General John C. Fremont, 
" The Pathfinder." I have heard it said that Mr. 
Park realized no less than $2,000,000 from his 
connection with that great estate. 

General Fremont died in poverty. 

Another bonanza was the celebrated Emma 
Mine, in which Mr. Park was interested, and out 
of which he had the credit of having made a very 



large sum, through its sale to confiding British 
investors, who claimed that they had been taken 
in for £1,000,000 sterling. 

During those earlier years, in passing to and 
fro, Mr. Park had realized the importance of the 
Panama route, and when the tumble occurred in 
the price of Panama Railroad shares, in 1867, 
from about 360 to 80, in Wall Street, he was 
quick to buy. Years passed; his great oppor- 
tunity came when the Panama Canal Company 
was organized, with a flourish of flags and bray 
of brass, and M. de Lesseps found it of the first 
importance to control the road. For four years 
Mr. Park had been fortunate in having Mr. 
Brandon Mozley as superintendent of the road 
on the Isthmus. It was shown to the canal com- 
pany that under the latter's management the 
earnings had been more than $1,000,000 a year 
above expenses; and that in all probability, with 
the increased traflic that work on the canal would 
bring, the net earnings would be largely aug- 

These representations were doubtless in the 
main correct; and with proper management the 
canal company might have found the railroad the 
profitable investment it had been led to consider 
it. Be that as it may, the sale brought Mr. Park 
and his associate shareholders a profit of about 


Chapter XVI] 

ten million dollars. Not much was said about it 
at the time. In fact, for reasons only known 
to the parties interested, the terms were not pub- 
lished; but the French canal company was sad- 
dled with a white elephant, at the modest cost of 

Mr. Park did not long survive to enjoy the 
vast fortune he had amassed. He died on board 
the steamer San Bias, on the voyage from New 
York to Colon, from an overdose of chloral (it 
was said), December 13, 1882. 

He was a small, delicate man in appearance, 
keen, quick-witted, intellectual, affable, and thor- 
oughly democratic. He had many admirers. 

Mr. H. A. Woods remained in charge of the 
road as superintendent, until November 23, 1883, 
when Mr. J. J. Iribe, who had been appointed 
to the position, took his place. Mr. Woods was 
much regretted. Mr. Iribe did not speak Eng- 
lish ; and as all the business of the road was trans- 
acted in that language, he found it difficult to 
get on. Whether for this reason or some other, 
he only held the position till April 17, 1884 
(about five months), when he was relieved by 
Mr. G. A. Burt, who received his appoint- 
ment as general superintendent on July 31, 

Mr. Burt had been agent of the road at Pan- 


ama, under Mozley, Woods, and Iribe, and had 
the advantage of a thorough acquaintance with 
the affairs of the transit, in their various pe- 
culiarities and requirements. He was therefore 
well qualified to fill the place (as he did) with 
distinguished ability. When he took charge, ca- 
nal influence was in the ascendant; consequently 
he was more or less subordinate to the then chef 
of the canal works, M. Jules Dingier, perhaps 
the most able (or least incompetent) of the long 
list. But Mr. Burt held fast to his American 
notions about railroad matters; so that contrary 
to the general expectation, " French fashions " 
did not to any extent prevail. His successor was 
Mr. Frank G. Ward, whose appointment was 
dated December 10, 1885. 

It was during Mr. Burt's superintendency that 
the great disaster known as the Pedro Prestan 
fire, of March 31, 1885, swept Colon away, leav- 
ing scarcely a vestige of the town. A revolu- 
tion had broken out in the interior of Colombia, 
against which the Panama Government, under 
the excellent General Damaso Cervera, had 
taken part. In sympathy with the revolution, 
former State-President, General Rafael Aizpuru, 
threatened Panama; and to aid in repelling this 
attack. General Gonima, the officer in charge of 
a small detachment of national troops at Colon, 


Chapter XVI] 

was directed to transfer his force, as well as the 
entire police guard of the town, to Panama. 
This would leave Colon entirely unprotected. 
Before doing so, however, he paid a visit to Com- 
mander Theodore F. Kane, on the United States 
ship Galena, then at anchor in the harbor; and 
according to the testimony afterwards given, 
made an explanation of the state of affairs to 
Captain Kane, requesting that officer to assume 
charge and protection of Colon, until tranquillity 
should be restored. It is also asserted, on what 
appears to be good authority, that Captain Kane 
accepted the responsibility. General Gonima 
then went to Panama, with the entire military 
and police forces combined, relying upon the 
promise made by the commander of the Galena, 
that Colon should be looked after and kept in 
order. Mr. Pedro Prestan, in sympathy with 
Aizpuru and the revolution, then raised the 
standard of revolt; and before Captain Kane or 
apparently anyone else knew a word about it, 
at the head of a dozen barefooted rascals with 
pistols and machetes knocked at the door of the 
Prefectura, then occupied by the late Mr. J. A. 
Cespedes, and took possession. No resistance 
was offered; and when Captain Kane heard of 
it, instead of giving Prestan notice to retire at 
pnce, left him there to do as he pleased. This 



was about the middle of March, 1885. Little 
Prestan set to work with fierce energy to raise 
and arm a force with which to establish himself 
master of the city ; and displayed ability as leader 
of a desperate cause. Acts of insolence toward 
those whom he thought to be opposed to him 
were common, and a small reign of terror pre- 
vailed; although the Galena lay at anchor in 
the harbor, for the ostensible purpose of preserv- 
ing order and protecting the interests of the in- 
teroceanic transit. 

Either the Panama Government of Damaso 
Cervera was too weak to send a force at once to 
suppress the Colon mob under Prestan, or else 
President Cervera relied on the promise of Cap- 
tain Kane. It was not until near the end of 
March — say ten days or two weeks after the sur- 
render of Prefect Cespedes to Prestan, during 
which time the latter had recruited perhaps a 
hundred men, that a force was sent from Pan- 
ama, under General UUoa, to recover Colon. As 
soon as Prestan heard of this, he took two prom- 
inent American residents of Colon, Messrs. J. 
M. Dow and William Connor of the Pacific Mail 
Company, and placing them at the head of his 
" army," went forth to meet the foe at Monkey 
Hill, two miles from town. There was a mid- 
night skirmish, during which the two gentlemen 


Chapter XVI] 

mentioned managed to escape. Prestan saw that 
his braves would not face the enemy — that in fact 
they were a cowardly lot — and on the early 
morning of fatal March 31, 1885, he and they 
turned tail and came hurrying back to Colon, 
followed by the opposing force. Seeing that 
resistance was hopeless, Prestan gave orders to 
fire the town ; and with the exception of a fringe 
of buildings along the beach, and the Agency 
and wharf of the Pacific Mail Company (saved 
by the heroic exertions of William Connor and a 
few of his assistants), it was entirely destroyed. 
After an anxious night at the front, where he 
had been serenaded by the whizzing of bullets, 
Mr. Connor had reached his post at Pacific Mail 
House, Colon, in time to fight the flames success- 
fully at short range — so short as to singe his eye- 

Although absent at the time, I have thus 
briefly, and I believe correctly, from information 
regarded as entirely reliable, told the story of 
the great fire. 

Had Captain Kane taken the bull by the horns 
in the beginning, Prestan would have been sup- 
pressed; a vast half month of insult and outrage 
would have been averted ; and the horrors as well 
as the ruinous losses of the conflagration would 
never have occurred. 



Many incidents not here related lent force to 
the argument that the masterly inactivity of the 
naval commander was inexplicable. For exam- 
ple, United States Consul R. K. Wright, Jr., 
was seized and imprisoned, and his life threat- 
ened in case he should take any action against 
Prestan. Other grave outrages were committed 
on the persons and property of Americans; but 
there appeared to be paralysis on board the 
Galena, fatal in its results. Even at the last, 
if Captain Kane had sent a force on shore, to 
prevent Prestan's return from Monkey Hill, on 
the morning of March 31st, the latter would have 
been captured, and Colon would have been saved. 
Captain Kane was master of the situation. He 
knew that Prestan had threatened to burn the 
town in case of his defeat ; yet he made no effort 
to prevent the catastrophe and save the city from 
the tender mercies of a band of outlaws. This 
clearly shows that a heavy burden of responsi- 
bility rests upon that officer and the government 
he represented. At all events, it would seem 
that simple justice had not been done to those 
who lost everything by the fire, through no 
fault of their own, and were subsequently de- 
nied payment of their insurance claims, on the 
ground that the fire was caused by public dis- 


Chapter XVI] 

It was said that Captain Kane had instruc- 
tions not to act without express orders from 
Washington. How absurd! In the presence of 
a peril so great and a duty so imperative, he 
should have had the nerve to disregard instruc- 
tions so idiotic, in case he had received them ; else 
it had been better that he stayed away. 

I saw two of Prestan's precious rascals hanged 
in the streets of Colon; where he also was exe- 
cuted in the same manner, a little later, making 
it evident that Colombia recognized her fault in 
permitting the disorder; but no restitution for 
the losses sustained has yet been offered. 

The first day of April, 1885, was a day of 
trial unto Superintendent Burt; but he rose to 
the height of the situation. All accounts agree 
that he was the right man in the right place. 
With a town of 15,000 inhabitants in ruins; with 
public order for the moment suspended; the air 
filled with the clamor of hunger and wail of 
despair, he, as chief person in authority, dis- 
played splendid executive ability. Cool and tire- 
less, quick to see and to do, he not only then but 
afterwards, until better days came, earned and 
obtained the public approval. He had enemies 
and detractors — who has not? — but on the whole, 
it is safe to say that no one could have carried 
himself better in a trying crisis than did Mr. 



George A. Burt at and after the great fire of 
1885. It was a pity that he considered it neces- 
sary to leave the railroad service. His resigna- 
tion was accepted December 10, 1885; although 
he held over until after the first of the following 



Chapter XVII] 


A LTHOUGH the railroad and its manage- 
*^^ ment held foremost place in Isthmian af- 
fairs after 1850 until " Canal times," they by 
no means formed the only interests to which 
attention may be invited. In fact, the list is so 
long that I may not hope to make more than 
brief mention of a few items. 

Perhaps the most important is the historic — 
including the prehistoric — ^interest, which it is 
scarcely within the scope of this book to notice 
at all. The details of the discovery and occu- 
pation by rapacious Spain, at the beginning 
of the sixteenth century, are well known. The 
followers in the wake of Columbus were brave 
and hardy men, but cruel beyond description. 
They were fired with enthusiasm awakened by 
the wonderlands of the unknown West, but at 
the same time gave free rein to a lust for gold, 
and thus became a terrible scourge and curse. 

Sir Arthur Helps says, incidentally, in his 
" History of African Slavery," that when the 
Panama Isthmus was discovered, the estimated 



number of native inhabitants within the limits 
of the territory now known as the RepubHc of 
Panama, was no less than 2,000,000; and that 
they were considerably advanced in the arts of 
civilized life. They lived in villages, each gov- 
erned by a cacique or chief, and without being 
what is called progressive, were generally at 
peace with each other, contented, and therefore 
happy. All this was rudely changed. These 
primitive homes were invaded, the wondering 
Indians robbed of their plentiful ornaments of 
virgin gold, and at the same time seized and 
made prisoners and slaves. They quickly van- 
ished from the face of the earth, under the cruel 
Spaniards. Only one family or tribe, known to- 
day as the San Bias Indians, escaped. All the 
territory thus held from immemorial time re- 
lapsed into the untented wilderness in which it 
is found to-day. These slumbering hills and val- 
leys, spread out between the two seas in a dream 
of tropical loveliness, wild and lonely, swarmed 
with human life four hundred years ago. The 
records of that time are scanty, the sword rather 
than the pen having been the instrument in use, 
but there is no doubt of the substantial facts. 

In what is now the neighboring province of 
Chiriqui, where the rainfall is less and the cli- 
mate more favorable owing to altitude, remains 


Chapter XVII] 

of an earlier race have been found, which possess 
great interest, since they reveal a knowledge of 
the arts akin to and probably contemporaneous 
with that of the Aztecs of Yucatan and Mexico 
on the north, and the Inca civilization on the 

I have had gold ornaments of ingenious and 
wonderful design and workmanship, dating from 
those remote times; for example, a frog an inch 
in length, weighing half an ounce, with its legs 
drawn up in a curious human way. I have also 
a gold bell, in shape much like a modern sleigh- 
bell, with a ball inside that makes a tinkling noise 
when shaken. I collected a great variety of pot- 
tery that had been taken from the huacas, or 
burial places, scattered throughout that remark- 
able region, and although most of it was lost in 
the fire of 1885, some remnants remain. 

To the late J. A. McNeill, of Binghamton, 
N. Y., who spent years in search of prehistoric 
Indian relics for the Smithsonian and other in- 
stitutions, I am indebted for much strange infor- 
mation about the vanished race. 

It is impossible to reflect upon the deeds of 
hardihood performed by the Spanish invaders 
without admiration of their boldness. In a wild 
world their courage never faltered. Neither dis- 
appointed hopes, nor broken health, nor death 



itself turned the tide backward. No doubt re- 
ligious faith and loyalty to their sovereign had 
much to do with this; but strange to say, great 
cruelties and fearful crimes were committed in 
the name of God and king. Splendid deeds 
adorn the record here and there; but if we read 
the works of Irving or Prescott, we shall find the 
stain of blood trailing through and through. 
Those were the days of carnage and rapine as 
well as of discovery. The pioneer spirit was af- 
flicted with a thirst for gore. Panama was 
founded — the elder city of the name — in 1515; 
its cathedral towers sent forth the clear sound 
of their bells a hundred years before the Pilgrim 
Fathers landed on Plymouth Rock. For one 
hundred and fifty years it had been prosperous, 
when Morgan the Buccaneer destroyed it. Then 
for another century and a half, upon another site 
about five miles distant, the present city was one 
of the first importance in all America. Its walls, 
remnants of which still remain, were so costly 
that Spain's monarch asked if they had been 
built of silver. 

Yet it was not an age of refinement. To do 
great things was the ambition of noble minds 
then as now; but the manner of the doing and 
the means employed would shock the modern 
conscience. Still there were many purely heroic 


Chapter XFII] 

actions. It was within the territory of the Pan- 
ama Isthmus that the Pacific was discovered, in 
1513, by Vasco Nunez de Balboa. The exact 
spot is not known; but it was not far from the 
present city of Panama that the brave adven- 
turer rushed with drawn sword in one hand, and 
the colors of Castile in the other, waist-deep into 
the Pacific, proclaiming the discovery his own, 
made in the name of God and for the glory of 
Spain. It was one of the great moments of 

The poet Keats, although he wrote Cortez for 
Nunez, set forth the deed in verse that waves as 
a banner in the breeze of fame: 

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies 
When a new planet swims into his ken; 

Or hke stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes 
He stared at the Pacific — and all his men 

Looked at each other in a wild surmise — 
Silent, upon a peak in Darien. 

Yet such were the vicissitudes of fortune that 
the unhappy Balboa perished miserably in 1517, 
at the age of forty-two, a helpless victim to the 
jealousy of Pedrarias, who had been made gov- 
ernor of the Isthmus. 

It was from here also that in 1524 the terrible 
Francisco Pizarro embarked on his voyage of 
discovery that ended in the conquest of Peru, 



and the ruin of the wonderful civilization of the 

For three centuries, from 1500 to 1800, the 
Isthmus remained under the iron rule of Spain. 
In the wars between Spain and England, Ad- 
miral Sir Francis Drake who had circumnavi- 
gated the globe died near Porto Bello, in 1596, 
at the age of fifty-one, and was buried at sea, 
off Cape ISTombre de Dios. He had been ac- 
companied to Porto Bello, in 1585, by Martin 
Frobisher, afterwards knighted for special brav- 
ery at the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Mor- 
gan the Buccaneer captured and sacked Chagres, 
Porto Bello, and Panama Vie jo (Old Panama) ; 
but his hold relaxed when he and his bold villains 
sailed away with their spoil. In 1739 Admiral 
Edward Vernon took Porto Bello and destroyed 
its fortifications, a feat that Admiral Hosier 
might easily have anticipated, had he not been 
under orders from the British Government not 
to fight. Hosier, with many of his brave sailors, 
succumbing to disease and disappointment, was 
buried at sea, off the harbor of Porto Bello. 

The hand of ruin has been heavy upon the 
monuments of Spanish power and glory, left be- 
hind in the form of church and fort and city 
wall and paved highway; yet traces of the cruel 
mother's grandeur in that great era may still be 


Chapter XVII] 

seen. Near the church on the hill at Cruces, ten 
miles from Panama, there is an anchor that 
weighs two tons. It was brought there, perhaps 
by way of the river, perhaps over hill and dale 
by the paved road from Porto Bello; and it will 
excite the wonder of the passer-by, as it did mine, 
so long as iron shall endure. It was left where 
it is by no puny weaklings, but by 

" Men from the sunless plain. 
Made strong and brave by familiar pain." 

During the early part of last century the yoke 
of Spain was thrown off. Since then conditions 
have not been favorable, yet out of the turmoil 
of revolutionary changes has come an era of re- 
cent peace and progress to Panama. 

The geographical interest of the Panama Isth- 
mus is of the first importance. Reference to the 
map will show its unique position, between two 
seas and two continents. It would seem as 
though Nature had intended to leave a gap or 
passage, but had changed her imperial mind 
when she placed the present barrier. It is so 
small as to challenge the enterprise of man for 
its removal, and yet so large as to require the 
most strenuous and heroic efforts. 

The position of Colon is 9° 22' north, and 
79° 55' west; of Panama, 8° 57' north, 79° 



32' west. It will therefore be seen that the lat- 
ter city, on the Pacific, is south and east of the 
former, on the Atlantic or Caribbean. The land 
narrows and takes a remarkable bend to the east- 
ward and northward, as it comes down from the 
Central American coast ; as though it would form 
a second Yucatan. But after describing* a great 
half circle it is again deflected southward, and 
widens into the southern continent. To a resi- 
dent of Colon it will always seem strange that 
the sun rises inland and sets beyond the sea; in 
other words, that east seems west and west east. 
Nor is it easy to reconcile the fact mentioned — 
that Panama is southeast of Colon — with the in- 
herited geographical idea that all points on the 
Pacific should be west of all points on the At- 
lantic. There is a suspicion of something crooked 
about this. 

Almost directly west of Colon, ninety miles 
away, is the Chiriqui Lagoon, at one of the en- 
trances to which is the town of Bocas del Toro; 
while at the east the bow of the arching land 
swells still northward, until it has passed Porto 
Bello, twenty miles distant, and then bears to the 
east and south, forming the Gulf of Darien, into 
which the River Atrato empties. 

The narrowest place is at the Gulf of San 
Bias, about sixty miles east of Colon, where the 


Chapter XVII] 

Isthmus is no more than thirty miles wide, as 
noted in speaking of the Bayano River that flows 
into the Pacific. 

The general lay of the land is east and west; 
and the distance from the Atrato, where the Re- 
public of Panama ends, to the frontier of Costa 
Rica, along the coast line on the Atlantic, is 379 
miles; while the Pacific coast line is 674 miles. 
The average width of the Isthmus being esti- 
mated at eighty miles, we may therefore say that 
the area is about 32,000 square miles. This 
would give a territory about two thirds as large 
as the great State of Pennsylvania, that has a 
population of 6,000,000. 

Along both coasts are many bays and lovely 
islands, which form shelter for vessels, and will 
some day be desirable for plantations of cocoa- 
nuts and other tropical productions, as well as 
for the delightful insular homes of a future pop- 
ulation. They are for the most part unoccupied 
at the present day, except by stray nomads of 
the colored race, who have established squatter 
sovereignty here and there, and like Selkirk are 
monarchs of all they survey. 

The present estimated population of the Re- 
public of Panama is 300,000, or about ten to the 
square mile. There is no doubt that ten times 
the number, say 3,000,000 souls, could live in 



great comfort and prosperity within the total 

There are numerous rivers within Isthmian 
territory, the largest and longest of which is the 
Chagres, with its many tributaries and extensive 
watershed. Owing to the proximity of the two 
coasts, it is not possible for the rivers to be of 
great length. The Chagres is, however, at all 
seasons, a stream of considerable importance, and 
in time of flood a terror. It was navigable for 
small craft as far as Cruces, within ten miles of 
Panama, in the days before the railroad; and 
even now boats of the natives carry much local 
freight, to and from points as far as Matachin, 
(about thirty miles). 

The best portion of the republic is doubtless 
toward the west, adjoining the Costa Rican 
boundary. Eastward the land has a less gen- 
eral elevation, and is therefore not so salubri- 
ous. Most of it is still unoccupied, and in fact 
unexplored. The sad fate of the expedition un- 
der Lieutenant Strain, U. S. N., in 1854, will 
be remembered. We are informed that in Jan- 
uary of that year three war ships were sent to 
Caledonia Bay, in the Gulf of Darien, for the 
purpose of making an examination of that route 
for an interoceanic canal. They were the United 
States sailing sloop Cyane, Commander Hollins 


Chapter XVII] 

(who subsequently bombarded Grey town) ; the 
French steam sloop Chimere, and the British 
steam sloop Espiegle, The Devastation, also a 
British war vessel, joined the expedition later. 

The Cyane was the only ship that landed a 
party equipped to make a survey. This was led 
by Lieutenant Strain, and was made up of 
twenty-seven men, all told, including Senores 
Castilla and Polanco, commissioners sent by the 
New Granadian Government to accompany the 

The start was made from Caledonia Bay, on 
January 20th, with the intention of crossing 
the Isthmus to the Gulf of San Miguel on the 
Pacific coast. At first the Indians were friendly, 
or appeared to be so, and served as guides; but 
after a few days they deserted the surveying 
party in the depths of the tropical wilderness. 
The party then became hopelessly bewildered, the 
food supply failed, and one third of the number, 
including the two government commissioners, 
perished from exposure and starvation. The ac- 
count states, strangely enough, that nothing in 
those interminable leafy solitudes — in the shape 
of vegetable or fruit or bird or beast or reptile — 
was encountered that could sustain life. After 
ninety-five terrible days of suspense and suffer- 
ing. Lieutenant Strain and two or three others 



made their way to the Pacific, were rescued by a 
friendly Spanish native, and taken to Panama. 
The other surviving members of the sorrowful 
expedition at last returned to Caledonia Bay in 
complete exhaustion. Lieutenant Strain died, 
and his remains were buried at Colon, to be after- 
wards exhumed and taken to the United States. 

There have been several moi-e recent explora- 
tions of the Isthmian region; notably those un- 
der Lieutenant Collins, and under Commanders 
T. O. Selfridge and E. P. Lull, U. S. INT.; also, 
latest of all, under Lieutenant N. B. Wyse. 

The Selfridge survey, as it has been called, 
was undertaken in the interests of the canal that 
General Grant, when President, hoped to see 
made. There had been rumors and reports that 
a pass existed in the mountains to the eastward of 
Colon, by which boats could go, in the rainy sea- 
son, to the headwaters of a stream on one side, 
so near to those of a stream on the other side that 
only a very short and easy portage intervened. 

So much attention was paid to this that a Mr. 
Lacharme, who had spent much time among the 
natives of the region, and was supposed to know 
of the aforesaid pass, was sent for and brought 
from Cartagena ; but he failed to find it. 

Mr. Gisborne and Dr. Cullin, who had been 
sent out by English capitalists, also contributed 


Chapter XFII] 

to what proved a hallucination, as did worthy 
Captain Hogg, a mariner who had long traded 
on the coast. No such depression of the Andean 
Cordillera, which forms the backbone of the Isth- 
mus, was found to exist. Indeed, the present 
route of the Panama Railroad is the only one of 
so little elevation in the whole region. 

These several explorations have done much to 
make Isthmian geography familiar; yet exten- 
sive primeval solitudes remain, which have never 
been penetrated by white men, during the four 
hundred years since the New World emerged 
from the unknown. 

Colon and Panama are about midway between 
the two ends of the republic ; and while the whole 
area is thinly settled, as the total population 
shows, the western half contains by far the larger 
portion. It embraces Veraguas — where Colum- 
bus landed, at the river Belen, and endeavored to 
plant a colony under his brother Bartolome — and 
Chiriqui, where President Lincoln wished to es- 
tablish a settlement of freedmen, after his Proc- 
lamation of Emancipation. There are no finer 
lands, nor is there a better climate on the face 
of the globe than these provinces offer. 

Had the celebrated William Paterson, (who 
founded the Bank of England,) established his 
ill-fated colony of 2,500 brave and hardy Scots, 



in 1698, among the verdant hills of Veraguas and 
Chiriqui, instead of on the low shores of Cale- 
donia Bay, in the Darien, his venture might not 
have been a dismal and tragic failure, but a great 
success. Jamaica, recently wrested from Spain 
by Cromwell, was at that time the nearest Eng- 
lish settlement to Caledonia Bay; but the Scotch 
colonists applied in vain to the government of 
that island for help in their distress. Beeston 
was governor of Jamaica, and had received or- 
ders from King William III of England to ex- 
tend no aid. At last, however, after the larger 
portion of the colonists had perished at the Da- 
rien, as many as could be brought away in a 
single small vessel were permitted to land and 
seek homes in Jamaica. Other survivors were 
carried to the British Colonies, now the United 

The geographical features of the Isthmus are 
thus found to be of great interest, and its posi- 
tion relative to all other countries has not failed 
to attract universal attention. It is a pivot — a 
central point toward which a large share of the 
commerce of the whole world must gravitate, to 
be sent on to its various destinations. 



Chapter Xrill] 


TN a certain passage of " The Martyrdom of 
^ Man," Winwood Reade speaks of '' the mo- 
notony of eternal change." The expression may 
be borrowed and appHed to the pohtical affairs of 
the Panama Isthmus, from 1855 to a recent date. 
It would have been difficult to keep exact account 
of the many changes that have occurred in the 
government, nearly all of which have been 
brought about by revolutions. 

The late Governor Arango favored me with a 
record of the names and dates of chief magis- 
trates, which shows that thirty-four, including 
himself, served in that office from July, 1855 to 
the date of his death in 1898. Governor Facundo 
Mutis-Duran, who succeeded him, was the thirty- 
fifth. The list, which will be found in the ap- 
pendix, forms a curious commentary on so-called 
republican history. The first name is that of 
Justo Arosemena, a native of Panama and one of 
her most distinguished sons. He served his coun- 
try faithfully in many situations of trust and 
responsibility, local and national, and was al- 



ways held in the highest esteem. He was min- 
ister from Bogota to Washington, London, and 
Paris; conducted dehcate and difficult negotia- 
tions with the neighboring republics ; was senator 
and cabinet minister; made and signed treaties; 
and in short, filled nearly every post of responsi- 
bility and honor in his country's gift. He pos- 
sessed great abilities, and was withal a man of a 
pleasing personality, that made intercourse de- 
lightful and endeared him to all. His mind and 
character were noble. It was my good fortune to 
know him somewhat intimately for years; and it 
gratifies me to have the present opportunity of 
paying this tribute to his memory. He died at 
Colon, February 23, 1896, at the age of seventy- 

Rafael Nunez, fifth on the list, was another 
statesman of wide renown, who left the impress 
of brilliant powers upon the history of his coun- 
try. He and Justo Arosemena were ardent lib- 
erals in their younger days, as well as intimate 
political and personal friends. As time passed, 
however, Dr. Nunez took more conservative 
views. At least he became less enthusiastic in 
regard to the republic, and adopted ideas which 
he considered more in accordance with the needs 
and conditions of a somewhat backward civiliza- 
tion. That he was right, or at least politic and 


Chapter XVIII] 

sagacious, is proven by his elevation to the presi- 
dency of Colombia, which position he held, with 
brief interruptions, until his death. He was in 
many respects, as politician, patriot, and poet, 
one of the ablest and most celebrated public men 
of his time. 

Manuel Maria Diaz was provisional gover- 
nor in 1862. He was highly esteemed as a quiet, 
order-loving, respectable citizen. He had been 
governor at an earlier date, during the construc- 
tion of the railroad, when the wild rush to Cali- 
fornia was at its height, and had gained much 
credit for friendliness and forbearance shown to 

General Santacoloma was a dashing young 
soldier, who had been brought to the front by the 
Mosquera revolution. 

Messrs. Calancha, Jil Colunje and Olarte 
were all men of dignity and ability, who each 
filled a short term without dishonor. The last 
named was a man of fine personal appearance 
and soldierly manners. The following char- 
acteristic incident occurred while he was gov- 
ernor. An indignation meeting was held at 
Colon, to protest against the prevalence of 
unpunished crime, especially of murder. Gov- 
ernor Olarte was invited to attend and accepted 
the invitation. He listened in dignified silence 



to the discussion, at the end of which he asked 
poHtely : 

" Gentlemen, have you all finished? " 

As there was no response he continued : 

" I have listened attentively to all that you 
have been pleased to say, and my reply is, that 
if you are not suited with this country, the doors 
of emigration are always wide open. Good 
morning ! " 

That settled it; and the aliens who formed the 
larger part of the meeting did not soon forget 
the lesson. 

General Olarte died suddenly not long after- 
wards; and there was a romantic story, lacking 
confirmation, although generally accepted as 
true, that he had fallen a victim to poison placed 
in a glass of wine by a rival, who committed the 
silly error of partaking of the same cup and thus 
sharing the same fate. 

The names of Correoso, Miro, Pablo Aroseme- 
na, Aizpuru, Casorla, Damaso Cervera, Vives 
Leon, Manuel Amador Guerrero, Posada, and 
Aycardi are all pleasantly recalled. 

Ricardo Arango, thirty-fourth on the list, who 
filled the ofiice for more than five years, until the 
date of his death, October 8, 1898, was doubtless 
one of the best chief executives Panama ever had. 

Facundo Mutis-Duran, who was appointed 

Chapter XVIII] 

governor on the day following the death of Gov- 
ernor Arango, was succeeded by General Campo 
Serrano, in January, 1900, followed by Gover- 
nor Carlos Alban, who was killed on board the 
steamship Lautaro in Panama Bay. Don Jose 
Domingo de Obaldia was governor at the date of 
the independence of Panama, November 3, 1903. 

The entire list filled the executive chair with 
dignity, although in earlier years with that plen- 
tiful lack of tenure which has been so noticeable 
in Spanish America. 

It is easy to criticise, but when the difficulties 
which beset a Spanish-American Government 
are taken into consideration, it will be seen that 
it is a case of " put yourself in his place." 

Isthmian commerce, during the period under 
review, may be described as the eddy of the 
stream that flows with considerable constancy 
along the railroad transit. Were it not for this 
larger volume, there would not have been suffi- 
cient Isthmian trade to deserve the name of com- 
merce. In the twenty-four years from 1876 to 
1899 inclusive, 5,330,959 tons of merchandise of 
all classes were transported over the Panama 
road, or an average of 222,123 tons per annum. 
The largest tonnage of any year was in 1888, 
when 365,266 tons were reported. A consider- 
able percentage of this was material and supplies 



for the French Panama Canal. The smallest 
tonnage was in 1876, when the amount was only 
113,781 tons. Since that year there has been a 
gradual increase. 

As in so many other instances relating to Isth- 
mian affairs, statistics are wanting to show the 
value of local imports and exports. Nor is it 
considered necessary or important, in this connec- 
tion, to go into the matter to any extent. 

The state of exchange has contributed much to 
bring about depression of trade conditions. The 
currency of the Isthmus is silver; and when a 
merchant is compelled to sell his goods for money 
that is worth less tban one half that with which 
they were purchased, or in other words, when he 
must pay more (sometimes much more) than 100 
per cent premium for gold, or for exchange with 
which to make his remittances, it will be seen how 
difficult it is to get on. It may be said that all 
the merchant need do is to double his prices, or 
add as much as he likes to the cost of his goods, 
to cover this enormous charge; but experience 
shows that customers are wont to fall off in a 
dissolving view when their money goes so little 
way. A silver basis, so long as it is not universal, 
is alike ruinous to the interests of the public and 
the individual. 

The Chinese, those busy ants of commerce, 

Chapter XVIII] 

have taken advantage of this state of things, and 
almost monopoHzed certain branches of business. 
They have come to the Isthmus in large numbers, 
and are now seen on almost every street corner 
of Colon and Panama, as well as at every station 
along the railroad. They are a quiet lot, frugal 
in the extreme, always attend strictly to business, 
and are rapidly acquiring control of the Isth- 
mian trade in provisions and liquors. They can 
live where other races would starve. They have 
many virtues, I suppose, as well as many defects, 
viewed from our standpoint ; but while they have 
been declared an undesirable element in the pop- 
ulation of the United States, it may be doubted 
whether they will prove so at Panama. Their 
exclusiveness is certainly a great drawback. 
They come as aliens, and aliens they remain. 
But if their pig-tails could be cut off, and the 
backward sailing rendered impossible — if they, 
in short, could be induced to consider their resi- 
dence permanent, as emigrants of other races do 
wherever they go, there is probability that they 
might prove a blessing to tropical America, so 
sadly in need of population. 

Although business on the Isthmus has been de- 
pressed for the last few years, there is no reason 
why there should not be an immediate revival in 
view of recent events. 



During earlier canal times several business 
houses had the reputation of making large for- 
tunes, and it was perhaps true of three or four or 
half a dozen. As a rule, however, money easily 
and quickly made, was as quickly and easily 

A good story is told of one large concern, con- 
sisting of three partners, all of whom were young 
men of more than ordinary business ability. At 
the beginning all went well; but too great lib- 
erality in the matter of champagne, supple- 
mented, perhaps, by too frequent indulgence in 
" the work of dealing kings," and things of 
that sort, kept the contents of the cash box low; 
and when foreign bills fell due they were not 
promptly paid. Finally an unreasonable cred- 
itor or two became urgent, and replies were sent 
off, saying: 

Dear Sirs: 

" We have received your highly esteemed 
favor of blank date, and appreciate the force of 
your remarks. It is true that we owe the amount 
specified, and we would dearly like to pay the 
same at once; but we beg to inform you that at 
the present moment we are not able to buy ex- 

" We regret this, but it cannot be helped. 
" We remain, dear sirs, 

" Yours sincerely." 


Chapter XFIII] 

It was considered a good joke, that they sim- 
ply forgot to add, in regard to exchange, " be- 
cause we cannot pay for it." 

At an earher date, a Panama merchant (now 
dead) who became a prominent banker, accmnu- 
lated a fortune, and Hved much in Paris, met 
with the following piece of good luck. 

It often happened that whaling vessels came to 
Panama to ship their catch home. The cap- 
tain of one of them brought two casks of whale's 
teeth, for which he vainly sought a purchaser. 
At last the aforesaid merchant, just beginning 
business, offered $200 for the lot, and the offer 
was accepted. Then the question arose : What to 
do with them? Price-lists were scanned, and 
some one asked: " Why not send 'em to China? " 
Why not, sure enough? And so they were 
shipped off via San Francisco, to a commission 
house in Hong Kong, with instructions to sell, 
and return proceeds in Chinese straw slippers. 

Months passed, and the whale's teeth had been 
well-nigh forgotten, when one day a letter came 
enclosing bill of lading and invoice for 100 dozen 
pairs of slippers, with the following explanation. 

The shipment had been received and sold for 
1,200 Mexican dollars, and the amount placed to 
the credit of the Panama merchant. As it was 
thought best not to invest so large a sum all at 



once in the manner requested, the cost of sHppers 
being only ten cents a pair, 100 dozen had been 
shipped, and a balance, after deducting commis- 
sions, etc., of more than $1,000 remained. 

At Panama the slippers readily fetched from 
a dollar to a dollar and a half per pair ; so that 
before the transaction was closed it had become 
the parent of a prosperous business in Chinese 
goods, and the beginning of a handsome fortune. 

There was also in former days a brisk business 
in linen lawns and similar goods, and one prom- 
inent merchant held the following unique views 
on the subject of cash and credit. Commissioned 
to buy some linen articles, I found upon inquiry 
that the prices for ready cash were higher than 
for credit. " Why is this? " I asked in my inno- 
cence. " Well," replied the merchant, " if I sell 
on credit, and the bill is not paid, don't you see I 
do not lose so much. And another thing, I must 
get enough from my cash customers to make up 
for such losses." 

The exports from the Republic are much less 
in value than the imports, so that the balance of 
trade, though small, is always adverse. Here 
again statistics are difficult to obtain; but it is 
safe to say that the value of imported goods ex- 
ceeds that of exported produce in the proportion 
of ten to one. The principal item of exports has 


Chapter XVIH] 

been bananas, a glance at the growth of which 
trade may be interesting. 

About thirty years ago, Mr. C. A. Frank, who 
was employed on one of the New York steamers, 
took a few bunches home as an experiment. He 
disposed of them readily, and the little venture 
was repeated. It was not long before he left the 
steamship service, and arranged to remain at 
Colon, and make regular shipments by each 
steamer. The planting of more extensive fields 
was at once encouraged, the Frank Brothers 
Company was duly organized, and in a few 
years the trade grew to about its present pro- 

Mr. Frank remained seventeen years in the 
business, when he retired with a fortune. I heard 
him say that at the end of ten years of hard work, 
(owing to occasional losses, — as there was no in- 
surance to be obtained — combined with various 
vicissitudes and disasters, including high rates of 
freight, and inadequate and always uncertain ac- 
commodations on board the steamers for his fruit, 
as though it were a matter of little consequence) , 
he found that he had not made a dollar. 

At that time the late Mr. Trenor W. Park 
was president of the railroad, and Mr. Frank 
appealed to him. It was not in vain, for imme- 
diate changes were made, in accordance with the 



views of Mr. Frank, and during the following 
seven years the business prospered. 

The Frank Brothers were succeeded by the 
Aspinwall Fruit Company, of which Mr, J. H. 
Stilson is agent at Colon. I am indebted to the 
courtesy of the latter for the memorandum of 
shipments since 1888 given in the Appendix. 

During the last twenty-five years there has been 
a quite phenomenal development of the banana 
trade at Bocas del Toro, on the famous Chiriqui 
Lagoon, in the Republic of Panama, to the 
westward of Colon. Production has rapidly in- 
creased until the present time, when shipments 
from that port are larger than from any other 
in the trade. Planting on a large scale is con- 
stantly going on; both because bananas quickly 
exhaust the soil, and because new plantations 
have become necessary to supply the increasing 
demand for the fruit. It is claimed that the 
country within easy reach of the Lagoon is " the 
finest in the world," and that there is an in- 
exhaustible supply of virgin lands for banana 
growing, or for any other purpose in the wide 
range of tropical agriculture. There would 
therefore appear to be no limit to the prosperity 
in store for that favored region. 

The population of Bocas del Toro and the sur- 
rounding settlements was about 1,000 fifteen 


Chapter XVIIIl^ 

years ago. It is now stated to be 10,000. This 
growth is to be credited entirely to bananas. 

There does not appear to be any hmit to the 
demand for this fruit. The market is gradually 
widening, and already includes England and 
continental Europe, as well as the United States 
and Canada. It is therefore reasonable to con- 
clude that the area of production will be largely 
extended. All of the Atlantic coast line of 
tropical America that is within marketable reach 
of the north temperate zone will witness a very 
large increase in banana culture. The banana 
habit has become fixed; and it is a good habit; 
for there is no food product among fruits that is 
more wholesome or attractive to the palate. It is 
likely that besides the immense consumption of 
the raw fruit, a large demand will be developed 
for the prepared food, either evaporated after the 
manner of apples, or converted into banana flour 
or meal. There is no doubt that the future food 
supply of the world will be permanently aug- 
mented by this important item of the list, and 
that the American tropics, especially the Isth- 
mian coast, will reap a corresponding benefit. 

Next in importance has been the exportation 
of woods and timber. An exceedingly hard and 
beautiful wood, called coco-bolo, found along the 
Panama railroad and the Chagres River, has 



been exported in considerable quantities, to be 
used in fine cabinet work, for knife handles, etc., 
etc. ; also fustic wood for coloring purposes. The 
most extensive interest in this line, however, has 
been the cutting and shipping of cedar logs. The 
trees are found along the Chagres and on the Pa- 
cific coast. 

Fromi 1860 to 1870 pearls and pearl shells 
from the fisheries in Panama Bay figured to a 
considerable extent; but the oyster beds were 
overworked, and gave out, so that the shipments 
almost entirely ceased. 

India rubber was obtained from the Darien 
and other parts of the Isthmus ; but the trees were 
cut down, instead of being properly tapped, and 
thus that industry also was nearly ruined. 

Rubber trees have been planted to a limited 
extent, and it is possible that in a few years the 
industry will become important. 

Ivory nuts, a species of palm nuts, used 
largely in the manufacture of buttons, are an- 
other article of export. They grow all along 
both coasts of Panama, and are gathered and 
brought in by the natives, whenever there hap- 
pens to be a market for them ; but the demand is 
so capricious that they are regarded dangerous 
to deal in. Cocoanuts are far more marketable. 
Of the latter, from the San Bias Indians alone, 


Chapter XVIII] 

several millions are obtained annually. Hides 
and turtle shell are shipped in small quantities. 

The mineral wealth of the Republic has never 
been developed. Gold is known to abound. 
Small quantities of gold dust are collected from 
the streams, by native women for the most part, 
and sold to merchants at Panama and Colon. 
Several mines have been worked, but in such a 
manner as to produce poor results. The Cana 
gold mine, in the Province of Darien, however, 
is an exception, if reports are true. It was 
worked in the time of the Spanish occupation, 
and has lately been reopened, with flattering 
prospects. The ore is said to be exceedingly rich, 
and the output of bullion large. 

Coal has been discovered near the line of the 
Panama Railroad, of a quality that bids fair to 
pay well, in case the quantity should prove 
abundant. Manganese has been mined with suc- 
cess at Viento Frio, on Cape Nombre de Dios, a 
few miles to the eastward of Porto Bello. The 
ore was found a short distance inland, on or near 
the surface of the ground, in large boulders of 
an exceptional percentage of richness. Many 
thousand tons have been shipped from there to 
the United States. 

As for agriculture — that foundation of all 
wealth, and of all national prosperity — as the 



term is understood at the north and in Europe, 
there is none. Neither the manner of doing it, 
nor the extent to which it is done deserves the 
name. Of the large area comprised by the repub- 
hc — not less than 30,000 square miles — so little 
is under cultivation of any sort, that I should say 
100 square miles would cover it. This would 
not include grazing lands, which in some parts 
are extensive, but cannot be called cultivated. 
There are no large estates for the growing of 
any kind of produce, such as sugar, coffee, cacao, 
or any of the numerous tropical fruits — not even 
bananas, as they are grown almost entirely by 
small planters, who will rarely have more than 
ten acres each in cultivation. 

After the French canal failure, a number of 
the laborers employed, mostly Jamaicans, prefer- 
ring to remain, took up small bits of land near 
the line of the railroad, which they have culti- 
vated after a fashion, thus contributing in a 
measure to the general welfare. They have cer- 
tainly changed the appearance of the country 
through which the railroad passes; for now one 
may, from the train, form some idea of the lay of 
the land; while in former days the jungle shut in 
the track, — or shut out the adjacent country — as 
effectively as if the rails had been laid between 
two parallel walls. 


Chapter XVIII] 

The reasons for this lack of agricultural devel- 
opment need not be difficult to find. They are 
many; but the one which seems most potent to 
my own understanding is this : 





rilHE Department of State at Washington 
'■■ has placed me under obligations for lists 
that will be found in the Appendix, of United 
States ministers to Bogota, and consuls at Co- 
lon and Panama, with the dates of their commis- 

The list of ministers embraces several well- 
know names. General George W. Jones of Iowa 
was one of the most prominent citizens of 
the republic. He served his country in many- 
positions of importance, lived to a great age, and 
has only recently been gathered to his fathers. 

Judge Allen A. Burton of Kentucky was an- 
other highly esteemed American who left the im- 
press of his abilities and personal worth upon the 
people of Colombia, during his long term as min- 

General Sullivan was a genial Irishman, with 
the reputation of an excellent lawyer. In private 
intercourse he was delightful; but as he did not 
understand the Spanish language, it is feared 
that his wit was lost on the good people of the 


Chapter XIX] 

Colombian capital. He complained of the social 
isolation in which he found himself there. 

General Stephen A. Hurlbut was especially 
commissioned as Minister to Bogota by Pres- 
ident Grant, in 1869, to negotiate a canal treaty, 
and succeeded in doing so. The treaty was 
signed at Bogota on January 26, 1870, and was 
transmitted to Washington, where, on March 
31st, it was sent by General Grant to the Senate. 
But it was not ratified. 

The question will be asked, Why was it not 
ratified and its provisions carried out? Why did 
the whole grand scheme end in humiliating fail- 
ure and disappointment? 

I was indebted for the answer to one of the 
framers of the treaty, the late Dr. Justo Arosem- 
ena. According to information thus derived at 
first hand, no sooner had the treaty been submit- 
ted to the Colombian Congress for deliberation 
and approval than the enemies of the meas- 
ure attacked it with great bitterness. The discus- 
sions extended through many sessions, and the 
opposition succeeded at length in making so 
great changes in the conditions of the treaty — so 
important amendments and alterations, — that 
when at last it left their hands it was so far mu- 
tilated and wrecked that failure was written 
large across its face. The treaty had been killed, 



and the completion of an interoceanic canal long 

And that was the unfortunate ending of a 
great plan generously conceived by General 
Grant, one of the world's acknowledged leaders 
of men, in peace as in war. 

And yet it was not the ending. It was only the 
end of the first chapter. For the Man of Iron 
did not see fit to acknowledge defeat. He was 
undoubtedly angry, but he displayed his displeas- 
ure only by turning his attention in another di- 
rection. It was then — and not before — that the 
Nicaragua idea came into prominence. Admiral 
Ammen, a warm personal friend of the Presi- 
dent, and Mr. Menocal, were then first sent to 
see what could be done with the San Juan River 
and its parent lake. If Colombia would not lis- 
ten to reason, but would insist upon throwing 
away an opportunity so splendid, it could not be 
helped, but she should be taught that a mistake of 
that magnitude must be paid for. There can be 
no doubt that had the treaty of 1870 been ratified 
and put in force, there would to-day be a canal 
connecting the two oceans. No doubt has ever 
existed in the minds of men well informed that 
the Panama route is the best, if not the only one, 
that comes within the range of practicability. 
All the rhetoric displayed in the American Con- 


Chapter XIX] 

gress and elsewhere, in favor of the Nicaragua 
route, is based upon a misconception of the nat- 
ural advantages and disadvantages of the two 
localities. General Grant knew that the Panama 
line was the more favorable, as his action clearly- 
showed. Nicaragua was adopted by him in a 
spirit of pique and resentment. A laudable am- 
bition had been thwarted, and to a mind so de- 
termined it was perhaps only natural to turn to 
what was regarded as the next best expedient. 
As all the world knows, he was a man of action 
whose aim was to accomplish whatever had been 
undertaken. Fame whispered that new laurels 
waited upon the completion of a waterway from 
ocean to ocean. And if on the one hand, with 
pardonable impatience, he turned to the inferior 
route, on the other, Colombian statesmen were 
shortsighted, or perhaps influenced by unfriendly 
councils. It is somewhat remarkable that they 
should have repeated their stupid action in 1903, 
thus losing Panama and their last chance of ever 
having a canal. 

Unreasoning opposition at Bogota in both in- 
stances, 1870 and 1903, wrought not alone the 
ruin of both treaties, but in each case brought 
about an unfortunate estrangement between the 
two governments; for between the date of the 
recall of Mr. Scruggs, who followed General 



Hurlbut as minister, in 1873, and the appoint- 
ment of Mr. Dichman in 1878, there was a 
considerable interval, during which the United 
States Government was not represented at Bo- 

During this interval, while General Grant was 
nursing a just resentment, Colombia turned to 
the French, with the disastrous results so well 
known throughout the world. The concession 
granted to Lieutenant Lucien N. B. Wyse is 
dated March 20, 1878, before United States Min- 
ister Dichman had been appointed. Nor was the 
Government of the United States fortunate in 
the selection of that gentleman as its diplomatic 
representative, at a time when, if ever, diplomacy 
between the two nations was needed. If the re- 
ports of his want of tact and lack of politeness 
were true, he should never have been sent out. 
The impression he made was not a favorable one. 

The return of Mr. Scruggs, in 1882, was sin- 
cerely welcomed ; as he was an able and charming 
man, held in high public as well as personal es- 
teem. During his second term, on July 7, 1884, 
the Bogota mission was raised from that of Min- 
ister Resident to Envoy Extraordinary and Min- 
ister Plenipotentiary. 

In 1889 Hon. John T. Abbott, of New 
Hampshire, was appointed to succeed General 


Chapter XIX] 

Dabney Maury of Virginia. Of the entire list, 
good, bad, and indifferent, Mr. Abbott was one 
of the best — perhaps the best. He made himself 
master of the language of the country, entered 
fully into the life and customs of the people, 
and became so universally respected, that when 
the Methodist ministry was bereft, by Presi- 
dent Cleveland, of a bright and shining light, to 
fill Mr. Abbott's place, general regret was ex- 
pressed. But the best man stands no better than 
the worst in American so-called diplomacy. 

The honored name of William Nelson heads 
the list of United States consuls at Panama, his 
commission being dated July 16, 1845. 

Colonel Alexander R. McKee was the first to 
come within the limits of my time. He was a 
Kentuckian, and although afflicted with the de- 
plorable infirmity of deafness, which rendered 
general intercourse rather difficult, and no doubt 
interfered with his own enjoyment, as well as 
with that of his associates, he was dearly esteemed 
for his kindly qualities. 

Dr. O. M. Long, the army surgeon and per- 
sonal friend of General Grant, was also regarded 
with much public and personal favor during his 
ten years' tenure of the consulship. His son-in- 
law, Captain Crooker, who was vice-consul, was 
also well liked. 



Although the name of Hon. WiUiam L. 
Scruggs appears in the hst, he did not accept the 
j)osition, which was given, a month later, to 
Thomas Adamson, the most efficient consular of- 
ficer the Panama Isthmus has ever known. He 
had heen consul or consul-general of the United 
States, at Pernambuco, at Rio Janiero, at Mel- 
bourne, and at Honolulu, before he came to Pan- 
ama, his original commission dating back to 
President Lincoln's time, or more than thirty 
years. He remained at Panama, first as consul, 
and from August 1, 1883, as consul-general, un- 
til June 30, 1893, in all over eleven years; and 
his removal, for no fault, at the beginning of 
President Cleveland's second term, was univers- 
ally regretted. The event emphasized the de- 
fective consular system of the United States, at 
that period, from which the degrading idea of 
" spoils " had not yet been eliminated. 

Colon has not been free from the same curse. 
Fitness has not been regarded. But as I have 
had the honor to serve (often in charge) as vice- 
consul, at intervals since 1863, perhaps the less 
said the better. 

There was a public office called by courtesy 
Special Inspectorship of United States Customs 
on the Isthmus of Panama, that has only recently 
been discontinued. It was created soon after the 


Chapter XIX] 

completion of the Panama Railroad in 1855, at 
the solicitation of friends of Mr. Ran Runnels, 
a Texan, who had been at the head of a company 
of " Regulators " during the unsafe period of 
Isthmian transit by river and mule road. His 
services had been valuable at a time when nerve 
to hang an outlaw to the nearest tree, without 
judge or jury, was regarded a virtue. He had 
been a Texan Ranger, and was familiar with 
such methods. I did not know Mr. Rimnels, 
but heard a great deal about him after my ar- 
rival in 1861. He had just left for Central 
America, where he died, a few years ago. He 
was represented to be a delicate, quiet little 
man, " like a woman," and had many devoted 

It was not supposed that the United States 
Treasury would continue an office, known to be 
a sinecure pure and simple, after the person for 
whom it had been created should " die or leave 
the Bay," as the phrase went. But strange to 
say, two places were substituted for the original 
one; and for forty years the United States Gov- 
ernment paid $5,000 per annum, without obtain- 
ing value received. Nothing was ever done by 
these " Inspectors " to earn the salaries paid 
them. There was not even a pretense of service 
on their part. They drew their pay from the 



United States Treasury with unblushing regu- 
larity — and that was all. 

A list of British diplomatic and consular offi- 
cers, with which I have been kindly furnished by 
Consul (now Minister) Claude Mallet of Pan- 
ama, will also be found in the Appendix. 

The last three names in the list are those of 
young men who grew up on the Panama Isth- 
mus. Brilliant talents and charming personal 
qualities have advanced them in the diplomatic or 
consular service of their country. From youth 
they had the consular career before them, and 
are consequently now well-trained pubhc serv- 

How different from the wretched no-system of 
the United States! 

Mr. Charles Toll Bidwell, who was British 
vice-consul at Panama under Consul Charles 
Henderson, 1860-68, published a very inter- 
esting book, in 1865, called " The Isthmus of 


If •'■ ; 


Chapter XX] 


"DE SIDES the notable people of whom men- 
tion has already been made in these pages, 
there have been many others, especially in earlier 
days, before the tide of travel was turned away, 
who were well pleased to " stay their haste and 
make delays " for brief intervals when crossing 
the Isthmus. 

Among these were the Tichborne Claimant 
and " Lady Tichborne," who came to Panama 
from Australia by one of the boats of the Pan- 
ama and Sydney line, and remained long enough 
to borrow some money (that has never been re- 
paid) from a friend of mine who was hypnotized 
by the glamour of the claimant's splendid pre- 
tensions. They were on their way to England 
to begin the contest that became so celebrated. 
He nor she was in the least aristocratic, if by that 
word refinement is implied. Grave doubts were 
entertained and expressed, even then, in quiet old 
Panama, as to the legitimacy of " Sir Roger's " 

Another chance visitor was Mr. Sam Ward, 


who had been on an important mission to Nic- 
aragua, and came to Colon on his way to New 
York. He passed an evening at my home, and 
left a perpetual remembrance of his surpassing 
personal charm. At that time he was perhaps 
fifty, rather short and stout, his grizzled hair and 
mustache close cut; his expression one of great 
good nature and perfect health, accompanied by 
an endless flow of most interesting talk. It was 
little wonder that he became " King of the Lob- 
by " at Washington, and was held in so high and 
wide esteem. 

The tragedian, Edwin Forrest, was another 
notable visitor. He was on his way to California, 
and made himself known to a few resident Amer- 
icans, to whom he came down from the lofty 
heights of tragedy, and was for the time mortal 
like the rest. He was already no longer young, 
and showed the marks of the passions he had torn 
to tatters on and off the stage. 

An actress who had won much applause in San 
Francisco as Mazeppa, for which character she 
was splendidly endowed — the Menken (Adah 
Isaacs Heenan Menken) was also for a few days 
a guest of the Howard House, Colon, on her way 
to Paris, where she died. She possessed literary 
ability also. One remarkable poem called " Into 
the Depths," that began with the words, " Lost, 


Chapter XX] 

lost, lost! " attracted wide attention. At the time 
of which I write she appeared to be " flush with 
doubloons, coins of eight," acquired in her recent 
triumphs; but it was said that the poor splendid 
woman came to utter grief in the gay French 
capital. Photographs were in circulation, in 
which she appeared with the elder Dumas, but the 
implied connection was denied. Her grave is 
(or was) in the Jewish corner of Pere La Chaise, 
for it seemed she was a member of that ancient 

She smoked cigarettes a good deal, and a trick 
she had of lighting matches on the sole of her 
shoe is remembered. She said she had lived much 
" without the pale of respectability." It was 

Queen Emma of the Sandwich Islands also 
came to Colon, and afforded no end of merri- 
ment to the black mob. When it became known 
that a " dusky Queen " was due by the Panama 
train, a great crowd collected; and when Super- 
intendent Parker gave his arm to her Majesty, 
to conduct her on board the English steamer by 
which she went to pay a visit to her sister queen, 
Victoria, a vast black procession was in attend- 

She was a rather bleached pleasant little cat- 
eyed descendant of a " King of the Cannibal Is- 



lands," apparently inclined to roly-poly and 
good nature. 

A great queen of another sort, the divine Sarah 
Bernhardt, came to Panama on her swing around 
the continent of South America, where she gave 
a few exhibitions of her wondrous art. In her 
suite was a small menagerie of parrots, monkeys, 
tiger cats, snakes, and other suspicious charac- 
ters, which materially assisted her divinity in 
making things lively for those about her. 

Mr. Edward Whymper, the celebrated moun- 
tain climber, president of the Alpine Club, etc., 
on his way to the summit of Chimborazo, was 
detained at Colon during a norther, and enter- 
tained his friends with his exploits. " A Tramp 
Abroad " had been but recently published, con- 
taining Mr. Whymper's account of the first as- 
cent of the Matterhorn in 1865, when Francis, 
Lord Douglas, and three others lost their lives. 
He added other data in relation to that " most 
memorable of Alpine catastrophes," which made 
his hearers wonder at the hardihood that can 
prompt such daring. 

Mr. Whymper was not of heroic mold, but 
on the contrary rather undersized and delicate. 
On his return from Ecuador he told of having left 
the blood-red flag of Britain flying on the sum- 
mit of Chimborazo, " by right of discovery," he 


Chapter XX] 

said, to mark the spot amid the eternal snows 
" where no man hath trod " save himself.* 

He was an engraver, and declared that the ex- 
cellence of American graphic art, as displayed 
in our magazines and elsewhere, was the envy 
and despair of British artists. His two visits 
were at the end of 1879 and beginning of 1880. 

Earlier, General E. D. Keyes came via the is- 
land of St. Thomas, en route for San Francisco, 
and remained in Colon " for a day and a night 
and a morrow." He had been one of McClel- 
lan's generals in the Peninsula, and was fresh 
from the disaster of Malvern Hill and the retreat 
that followed: events that had cast deep gloom 
over the North. He was a close personal friend 
and warm military partisan of General McClel- 
lan. As there had been brought about a very 
pleasant short acquaintance between the latter 
and myself, before the war, when he was chief 
engineer of the Illinois Central Road, I took the 
deepest interest in the views of General Keyes 
in regard to the failure of the Peninsular cam- 
paign, and its effect upon the military fortunes 
of his chief, as well as upon the final results of 
the war. He appeared to be in distress and deep 

* The Ecuadorian authorities said Mr. Whymper must go and 
take the English flag down from the top of Chimborazo, but he 
told them to take it down themselves. 



despondency; and I was so much influenced by 
the somber nature of his talk that the cause of 
the North looked desperate indeed. He did not 
reenter the military service, but retired to Cal- 
ifornia, where he possessed a large estate. He 
was a man of refined appearance, soldierly and 
somewhat austere, although charming in private 

Of an entirely different sort was bluff and 
hearty old Captain Bedford Pim, R.N. (re- 
tired) , a frequent visitor to the Isthmus in former 
days. He had become interested in a railway 
scheme from Monkey Point, on the Mosquito 
coast, between Greytown and Blewfields, to Lake 
Nicaragua. The route led across the wild Chon- 
tales Mountains, and the gradients were impos- 

The first time I saw him was at Colon on board 
the Royal Mail steamer Shannon, on his way to 
Managua. The late Mr. Thomas Harrison, 
Crown Surveyor of Jamaica, took me with him 
to pay Captain Pim a visit. That son of Nep- 
tune received us with good-natured condescen- 
sion, and plunged at once, neck and heels, into 
his pet project. I do not remember to have seen 
a more elaborate and gorgeous display of maps 
plans and profiles than was brought out and un- 
rolled before our wondering eyes. The spacious 


Chapter XX] 

saloon of the Shannon was none too large to hold 
it. It was a spectacle, a panorama. If we had not 
known better, it would have appeared that Mon- 
key Point, rechristened Bahia de Pirn, or Pirn's 
Bay, was already, or would soon be in communi- 
cation by rail with the Nicaraguan capital; so 
perfect were all the details — on paper. And then 
to hear the gallant captain talk ! He was so san- 
guine, and the thing seemed so real to his mind, 
and so easy, that a single breath of doubt from 
his listeners would have been blown back in a 
fine breeze of scorn. As an exhibition of opti- 
mism, built on a foundation less stable than sand, 
it could not have been equaled. There was noth- 
ing in it. For years the ancient mariner, in the 
character of promoter, went and came, full of 
his great scheme, forever reading papers, try- 
ing to attract capital, and going off like a 

Schuyler Colfax, when he was Vice-President 
of the United States, visited the Isthmus on his 
way from San Francisco to New York. He has 
been called by those who did not hold him in 
high esteem, Smiler Colfax; and indeed he was 
seldom without a smile on his handsome face. 
He was at one time regarded as a powerful fac- 
tor in American political life; but the investiga- 
tions by Congress of the affairs of the Credit 



Mobilier, in connection with the building of the 
Pacific overland railways, was fatal to his fame. 
He had been talked of as a candidate for Presi- 
dent of the United States. 

Governor Bigler of California, and United 
States Senator Nye of Nevada, were also among 
the prominent public men, of more than ordinary 
ability and interest, who charmed the Isthmian 
air with their temporary presence. Both were 
characteristic Westerners, men of intelligence 
and action of the rough-and-ready order. 

One fine day, about the year 1863 or 1864, on 
the arrival of the Panama train, a gentleman 
brought a note of introduction and a very beau- 
tiful young wife to my office, requesting that she 
be permitted to remain there while he attended 
to their baggage, steamer tickets for New York, 
and so forth. Of course nothing could have af- 
forded me greater pleasure. The husband's ab- 
sence, however, seemed to be prolonged to an un- 
reasonable length; and when at last he came 
back, all flustered and apologetic, with a strong 
suspicion of having " met a friend or two," the 
lovely woman used her eloquent eyes in place of 
words, in a manner to command instant silence. 
I do not think she uttered a syllable; but it 
was the most complete rebuke I have ever wit- 


Chapter XX] 

This was Ephraim George Squier, archaeol- 
ogist and author, on his way from Peru, where 
he had been collecting materials for his impor- 
tant work on the antiquities of that highl}^ in- 
teresting country. He had previously written 
several books that were widely read in their day ; 
among them " The States of Central America," 
1858. This book, of which I possess a copy, is 
still considered, next to the two volumes of John 
L. Stephens, the most valuable work that has 
been published on the subject. He died in 
Brooklyn, in 1888. His beautiful wife after- 
wards became Mrs. Frank Leslie. 

The late Fred Hassaurek, United States Min- 
ister to Ecuador from 1861 to 1865, and author 
of the absorbing narrative, " Four Years in 
Spanish America," came frequently to the Isth- 
mus during that time. He was a genial man, of 
delicate constitution and refined tastes, whom it 
was a pleasure and an honor to know. His home 
was at Cincinnati, where before and after his 
term as Minister to Quito, he was owner and ed- 
itor of an influential German-American news- 
paper. No better account than his has been pub- 
lished, since that of the UUoas (Don Jorge Juan 
and Don Antonio, in 1735), of the dreadful 
journey between Guayaquil and Quito, nor of 
the life and habits of the people of that equatorial 



republic. He also wrote a thrilling novel, which 
had for its theme the mournful destiny of the 
Incas of Peru. His early death was deplored 
by a wide circle of friends. 

William Henry Hurlbut, brother of General 
Stephen A. Hurlbut, was another brilliant man 
who once paid Colon a visit. He was then 
chief editor of the New York World, and had 
been on a journey to Peru, by invitation of 
Mr. Monte- Cristo Meiggs, when that million- 
aire was contractor for railroads that cost a 

I took Mr. Hurlbut for a morning drive 
around Manzanillo Island, behind Tom and 
Dick, the prettiest pair of ponies in the world; 
and it is a pleasure to recall the keen enjoyment 
he manifested as we flew along the sea-beach 
road, in the balmy air, the breakers on one hand, 
and the deep-green palm- jungle on the other. 
As I remember him, he was a handsome man, 
full of hearty, healthy, robust life, fascinating, 
kindly, a perfect citizen of the world, and master 
of a wealth of various information. 

The humorist, Artemus Ward (Charles Far- 
rar Browne), also came this way, as one of the 
" ships that pass in the night." When I saw 
him, probably in 1866, he was a very pale, 
blonde, rather tall man, beardless, except a long, 


Chapter XX] 

drooping red mustache. He had a prominent 
nose, and the stoop of a victim to consump- 
tion in his shoulders. He was on his way at 
the time to England where, according to E. C. 
Stedman, " he was able to lecture for a few 
months, repeating his American successes. In- 
creasing illness prevented his return to the 
United States." He died at Southampton, 
March 6, 1867, at the age of thirty-three. 

Another Mr. Browne, John Ross, a prolific 
writer for Harper's Magazine, who published 
some delightful books which were widely read 
thirty or forty years ago, was appointed United 
States Minister to China, and came around with 
his family to Panama, from l^ew York, as guest 
of the Pacific Mail Company, in one of their big 
new steamers — the Japan, I think — on his way 
to his post via San Francisco. During the few 
days' stay of the ship in Panama Bay, I had the 
pleasure of calling on Mr. Browne on board, and 
of making the acquaintance of himself, his ami- 
able wife, and his accomplished daughters. 

It is one of the conditions of literary fame that 
it is not often durable. In his time J. Ross 
Browne had a great audience. His productions 
were as eagerly read as were those of Bret Harte 
or of Mark Twain a little later, or those of our 
best contemporary writers. He had a fine wit, 



and though at times his humor was somewhat 
broad, it was thoroughly genial and dehghtful. 
The papers called " The Coast Rangers," pub- 
lished in Harper's Monthly, in 1861-62, giving 
an account of the poor degraded Digger Indians, 
and the shameful manner in which the United 
States Government had treated them, were es- 
pecially droll. The contractors, he said, had 
emptied the drugstores at the^East of their mis- 
cellaneous contents in the shape of stale, unsale- 
able goods of all sorts, that could be bought for 
a mere song, and had sent the same out for the 
poor Diggers. " An ounce of croton oil," he 
goes on, " would go a great way in lubricating 
the intestines of an entire tribe ; and as for paint, 
if it could not be strictly classed with any medi- 
cines known in the Official Dispensary, it might 
at least be used for purposes of clothing during 
the summer months. Red or green pantaloons 
painted on the legs of the Indians, and striped 
blue shirts artistically marked out on their bodies, 
would be at once cool, economical, and pictur- 

In former days (not so much now) the expres- 
sion Nature's nobleman was often heard; or as 
Carlyle would have written, Noble-Man. An- 
swering to that description was Prof. Louis 
Agassiz, of world-wide fame. It was my good 


Chapter XX] 

fortune to be presented to him by Mr. William 
Parker, Superintendent of the Panama Road, at 
Colon, about the year 1867. Accompanied by 
his devoted wife, he arrived at Panama, by the 
Coast Survey steamer Albatross^ Captain Z. L. 
Tanner, U. S. INT., which the United States Gov- 
ernment had placed at their disposal, for the pur- 
pose of making the voyage around South Amer- 
ica, in the interests of science. By invitation they 
came across to Colon, where they made a short 
stay as guests of the railroad company, after 
which they returned to their ship and continued 
the voyage to California. 

Professor Agassiz was about sixty at that 
time. In appearance he was the perfection of 
health and activity. As I recall him, he was a 
large florid man, weighing perhaps two hundred 
pounds, still without the ordinary signs of age in 
the shape of gray beard or hair. His manner 
was cordial, and it seemed natural to him to at- 
tract and fascinate. Everything interested him; 
he seemed to walk in a kind of wonder-world, in 
which all he saw was marvelous. An intense, 
eager, insatiable, glowing, inspired, noble mind, 
it was not strange that he possessed the warm 
friendship of the best men of his time — Lowell, 
Holmes, Dana, Emerson, Phillips, Whittier, 
Longfellow, and a host of others ; or that the last 



named celebrated his fiftieth birthday in a poem 
containing these beautiful lines: 

And Nature, the old nurse, took 

The child upon her knee, 
Saying: "Here is a story-book 

Thy Father has written for thee." 

"Come, wander with me," she said, 

*'Into regions yet untrod; 
And read what is still unread 

In the manuscripts of God." 

Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), 
who has contributed more perhaps than any other 
writer of his time to " the gaiety of nations," 
arrived at Colon on his way to California, soon 
after the return of the famous Quaker City 
excursion. He alone had made it famous, by writ- 
ing on the voyage the series of letters afterwards 
published under the title of " The Innocents 

We had read the letters at Colon, in the San 
Francisco newspaper Alta California, and like 
everybody else had enjoyed them immensely. 
When, therefore, it was known that their author 
was a passenger from New York by the steamer, 
a natural desire to see him led me to propose to 
two or three friends to call on him. This was not 
difficult to do. For a lion of that sudden magni- 


Chapter XX] 

tude we found him democratic and easily ap- 
proachable. His great mane was tawny then, 
without a silver thread. He was solemn as a 
funeral, and in speech as slow. These traits 
added and I believe have always added to the 
fun that sparkled in all he said. Among other 
things he was asked: 

" What did you think, Mr. Clemens, on the 
whole, of your fellow-passengers on board the 
Quaker CityV 

With a most serious air, and the original 
Mark Twain drawl, he replied: *' Well, my good 
friends, I'll tell you. There weren't brains 
enough on board that steamer to start a first-class 

This startling declaration was followed by 
other details of an amusing nature, which con- 
firmed his small but select audience in the opinion 
that he was the funniest man on the globe; a 
reputation that I believe never forsakes him the 
world over. 

In March, 1895, I had a pleasant call from 
Richard Harding Davis, on his way from Cen- 
tral America, via Panama, to Caracas. He had 
then recently crossed Honduras from the Atlan- 
tic to the Pacific, an interesting account of which 
journey appeared in Harper's Magazine, under 
the title of " Three Gringoes in Central Amer- 



ica." Later his graphic descriptions of the Vene- 
zuelan capital were published in the same period- 
ical. This gifted and energetic young author, 
traveler, war correspondent, and cosmopolitan 
impressed me as a strong man both physically 
and intellectually. 

Space forbids mention of the names of other 
well-known people whom it has been delightful 
to meet, during all these fiercely fleeting years. 
The list would be too long. 

It remains, however, to mention Edmund 
Clarence Stedman, poet, critic, man of letters, 
man of affairs, man of the world. A year after 
our first meeting, in the winter of 1874-75, in 
the mountains of Jamaica, he came for a short 
visit to Panama, when the friendship formed a 
twelvemonth before was cemented anew. Dur- 
ing his brief stay of ten days, we went by boat, 
one glorious morning, to see the ruins of Old 
Panama, where 

*' So long have the bare gray walls lain guestless. 

Through branches and briers if a man make way. 
He shall find no Hfe save the sea-wind's, restless 
Night and day." 

We landed at the old seawall, and made our 
way over broken arches to the great ruined roof- 
less tower of San Jerome, which was then as now 


Chapter XX} 

surrounded by dense jungle, and covered to its 
summit with vines and orchids and wild tropical 
vegetation. We stood within its walls, and won- 
dered at the ruin time had made since Morgan 
the Buccaneer captured and sacked the city. 
Little else remained to mark the spot that had 
once been the abode of riches and pride and 

I cannot say what lasting impressions were 
made upon my friend by the dear comradeship 
of those few delightful tropic days and nights; 
but for me, as Charles Dickens wrote, " a crowd 
of aiFectionate remembrances clusters about it, 
that would brighten the darkest winter day that 
ever glimmered and went out in Lapland." 




rilHE Spanish language is spoken, and the 
-■" Roman Catholic religion prevails in Pan- 
ama, the entire native population being reckoned 
as children of the Mother Church. Perhaps no 
form of religious worship can be better for a new 
and thinly settled country, where the padre or 
priest is indeed the spiritual father of the people. 
He is called upon to be guide, counselor, friend 
and teacher all in one. His task is hard and 
thankless in many instances, his life one of toil 
and privation; but observation shows that his 
high office is filled with zeal, constancy, and de- 
votion. The Isthmian priesthood is native born, 
with occasional exceptions, among whom was 
Father Curley, an Irish Catholic priest, who 
came from New York twenty-five years ago, and 
organized the Parish of Colon, under the Bishop 
of Panama. The good man collected funds, built 
a church, of which he remained in charge several 
years, and was noted for his energy and benev- 
olence. His departure was much regretted, when, 
on account of ill health, induced by constant toil 


Chapter XXI] 

in a hot climate, he left Colon for Buenos 

During the Colombian civil war of the early 
sixties, while General Mosquera was President, 
radical changes were made in existing condi- 
tions, which included the confiscation of church 
property, and banishment of the religious orders. 

Under the presidency of Rafael Nunez, the 
church regained, throughout Colombia, a large 
share of its former prestige, which it yet re- 
tains. At the same time it is to be noted that 
much liberality and freedom of religious opinion 
have prevailed. For many years there was a 
Protestant mission at Bogota, under the Rev. 
Mr. Wallace ; and others have been established in 
various parts of the republic. On the Isthmus, 
where there has been, since the advent of the rail- 
road, a large Protestant population of foreign- 
born residents, the greatest freedom exists. The 
two churches of Colon, one Episcopal, the other 
Wesleyan, enjoy the widest liberty of expression 
and action. They confine their labors, as they 
should, to spiritual and secular ministrations, and 
to the teaching of their own faith. 

The beautiful building, Christ Church, erected 
on the beach at Colon at a cost of $75,000 by 
the Panama Railroad Company assisted by pri- 
vate subscriptions, is a monument alike to the 



liberal spirit that prompted, and the tolerance 
that permitted and encouraged it. 

It was built in 1864 by Mr. Weeks, a New 
York contractor; and was consecrated to the 
Episcopal service by the late Bishop Alonzo Pot- 
ter of Pennsylvania, in June, 1865, when that 
distinguished prelate was on his way from New 
York to California, as guest of the Pacific Mail 
Company in one of their new steamers via the 
Straits of Magellan. During the few days' de- 
lay at Panama, the bishop came over to Colon, 
and performed the ceremony of consecration, in 
which I had the honor of being one of the spon- 
sors. He returned the following morning to 
the ship in Panama Bay; and sad to relate, the 
fatigue and unusual excitements of the Isthmian 
journey brought on illness which resulted in the 
good man's death on arrival in the harbor of 
San Francisco. 

The church long remained in the Diocese of 
New York, but was transferred to that of Hon- 
duras, over which Bishop Ormsby of the Church 
of England presided. Rev. S. P. Hendrick was 
for many years the zealous rector. His recent 
departure cannot fail to be deeply regretted. At 
one time the building was much neglected; and 
after the great fire of 1885 it was used as a prison 
and soldiers' barracks. 


Chapter XXZ] 

Among the earlier rectors were Rev. Messrs. 
Major, Temple, Bancroft, Tullidge, Knapp, 
and Henson, with all of whom I had pleasant 
acquaintance. They were men of exceptional in- 
telligence and kindliness of character, as well as 
of consistent devotion to their calling, and did all 
they could to lead in what they thought the right 
way. Mr. Major was candid enough to say to me 
that whatever good he could hope to do in such 
a deadfall would not be apparent in his lifetime, 
and I presume his successors held similar views. 

The Wesleyan mission is a credit to that great 
society. It was established by Rev. Mr. Latham, 
who with his devoted wife remained in Colon sev- 
eral years. Mr. Latham was succeeded by Mr. 
Taylor, who preached in a tent, when the weather 
permitted, and being somewhat sensational, cre- 
ated a good deal of excitement for a time. He 
became ill, and believed he died and went to 
heaven (?) and was restored to life. I think it 
was probably a dream resulting from the delir- 
ium of fever. 

At Panama efforts have been made at various 
times, and under different ministers, to keep up 
Protestant worship. At one period Mr. Hicks, 
an excellent young man, labored as lay preacher 
for years, with exemplary zeal; but he said at 
last that the work of conversion was hopeless. 



Rev. Mr. Geddes, the active and energetic Wes- 
leyan minister, lived at Panama, and was in gen- 
eral charge of the mission on the Isthmus. After 
him came Mr. Clark, Mr. Jacobs, and Mr. Cooke, 
the present pastor (1907). 

The moral tone of the Isthmian community 
during the years under review was never very 
high. There has always been a large number of 
resident Jamaicans and other West Indians, who 
have been ready enough to attend church ; but as 
one of the ministers said to me : " They are often 
religious without being moral!" The discrimi- 
nation is a curious one, and is recommended to 
the attention of students of such matters. Since 
the year 1861 there has been a constant if slow 

It is difficult to understand fully, and express 
an intelligent opinion upon the social life of peo- 
ple of another race and language, other ideas and 
customs, other standards of action ; unless family 
ties enable one to do so. Others as well as my- 
self, who have lived long among Spanish-Amer- 
icans, have found them agreeable and polite in 
their intercourse with each other and with for- 
eigners; always ready to oblige, and willing, in 
many instances, to sacrifice themselves for the 
comfort or convenience of others. They are kind 
and affectionate toward their childrcn, whether 


Chapter XXI] 

the offspring of legitimacy, or, as often happens, 
born of a union that has not had the sanction and 
blessing of the priest. High or low it is the same. 
They have the reputation of being exceedingly 
agreeable in all social relations among them- 
selves. The better class is exclusive, rarely form- 
ing intimacies with foreigners, except in cases of 
intermarriage. Differences of language and of 
religious faith have doubtless had a great deal to 
do with this. In recent years many Spanish- 
American women of the better class have been 
sent abroad to be educated, and speak English or 
French or both ; yet their modesty is as marked as 
ever, and upon their return to their homes and to 
the perpetual indolence of the tropics, they usu- 
ally fall in with the time-honored costumbres del 
pais (customs of the country) , are married to na- 
tive husbands, and lead the native life. Foreign- 
ers of the male sex, domiciled among them, often 
find great charm in their beauty, and in many 
instances have formed domestic ties which have 
doubtless resulted happily; but there is reason to 
doubt if a woman of northern birth and educa- 
tion, married to a Spanish- American, finds her 
life a dream of bliss. The difference between 
the picture imagination has painted and the real- 
ity, unless one is very optimistic, is too great. 
The gulf between the upper and lower strata 


of society appears much wider here than at the 
North. There, everyone is as good as anyone 
else — if not a httle better; while here the time- 
honored convention, inherited from Spain, still 
holds that the hidalgo {hi jo de algo, Son of 
Somebody) is better than his neighbor. Son of 
Nobody. In Panama there are many families 
descended from the nobility of Spain. The re- 
public has not yet changed all that. For the 
rest, I bear cheerful testimony that while one will 
encounter a good deal of the manana (to-mor- 
row) element in the native character, the Isth- 
mian is an easy person to live with, provided one 
does not look for too much; since he is good- 
natured, courteous, not intrusive, and as honest 
as could be expected. 

The foreign colony on the Isthmus, always 
rather large, owing to the numbers engaged in 
trade or occupying official positions in the differ- 
ent companies, has been a veritable rope of sand, 
so far as social life has been concerned : a hetero- 
geneous mob of aliens, here to-day and gone to- 
morrow, whose ruling passion is to get on. Men 
in all stations grow cynical, ill-natured, and cen- 
sorious. The reason is that no one ever came to 
the Isthmus with the idea of remaining long. It 
has been a procession rather than a social state, 
the characteristics of which have often been pe- 


Chapter XXI] 

culiar, sometimes grotesque and amusing. The 
beggar-on-horseback idea has prevailed, as it al- 
ways will prevail when poor human nature gets 
a brief chance to mount. The briefer, the more 
absurd is the exhibition of horsemanship. 

Cosmopolitanism has been the chief feature of 
the foreign contingent. It would be difficult to 
name any country, civilized or otherwise, that has 
not been represented. This was more especially 
the case during French canal times, when from 

" Jerusalem and Madagascar, 
And North and South Amerikee," 

all nationalities came flocking like birds of prey. 

I would not intimate that there has been, at 
any time, a complete absence of social enjoyment 
among foreigners, or that warm friendships have 
been lacking. It could not be expected that in 
such transient social conditions the same cordi- 
ality would exist as in older and better ordered 
communities, in which stability is the rule; but 
all things considered, the general kindliness man- 
ifested has been remarkable. 

A discussion of the climate will involve the ex- 
pression of individual opinions contrary to the 
prevailing impression. I am aware that there 
has always been a great dread of the place, and 
have been asked a thousand times : How can you 



stay there? In reply I have said, and repeat 
here, there are many worse places. It is not 
the deadly halfway station between Hope and 
Hades, Life and Death, that it has been painted. 
It is true that the whole coast line of tropical 
America is subject to malarial influences, and 
more particularly wherever the rainfall is so 
great as at Colon. Vegetation is rank and decay 
rapid, so that the atmosphere becomes more or 
less poisoned by exhalations that are inimical to 
health. The constant heat is also a cause of 
debility, independent of all malarial taint in the 
air. What would be said in New York or Lon- 
don, if the whole year round the temperature av- 
eraged 80° in the shade by day, and the nights 
were not much cooler? Now if the malarial 
element were added, is it not probable that a 
Londoner or New Yorker would take a through 
ticket foi* the North Pole by the first train? 

Yet Colon and Panama are not intolerable. 
Far from it; for when one becomes accustomed 
to tropical life, one finds a thousand compensa- 
tions for the so-called superior advantages of the 
temperate zones. 

It is facetiously said that there are only two 
seasons on the Panama Isthmus — the rainy and 
the wet; but this is slander. The dry season, 
which begins not far from the first of the year, 


Chapter XXI] 

and extends to April 17th or thereabouts, is re- 
garded as the more salubrious and enjoyable. 
The northeast trades then blow almost unceas- 
ingly, with occasional showers, and all local 
causes of disease are supposed to disappear. Un- 
der the vertical rays of a torrid sun vegetation 
then withers. Many of the forest trees are de- 
ciduous, and it is at this period that they shed 
their foliage. This gives a less verdant appear- 
ance to the landscape; but as soon as the first 
heavy rains fall. Nature resumes her robes of 
rich emerald green, and closes the gaps made by 
the sun's unclouded fire. The changes from one 
season to the other are supposed to be prolific of 
malaria, and therefore very trying to the health. 

In the Appendix will be found a statement of 
the rainfall at Colon for the ten years 1890- 
99, from which it will be seen that there was an 
average of 138.05 inches per annum for the whole 
period. This was certainly sufficient to rejoice 
the heart of Jupiter Pluvius; and as the heavy 
rains were accompanied by tremendous thunder 
and lightning, it may be presumed that Jupiter 
Tonans had a lively interest in Isthmian affairs 

Formerly it was observed that there would be 
a considerable difference in alternate years, the 
rainfall in one year, for example, being as low as 



eighty or ninety inches, while the following year 
it would be nearly or quite twice as much. That 
interesting meteorological feature seems, how- 
ever, to have disappeared, according to more re- 
cent data from which I have borrowed. 

The diseases of the climate are for the most 
part fevers of various types, none of which are 
regarded as dangerous, except yellow fever, 
which has rarely (in my opinion never) visited 
the Panama Isthmus, except in sporadic form, 
during the years under review. The steamers 
have brought many cases, many also of smallpox ; 
but neither the one nor the other has ever spread 
so as to become epidemic. ]N'o old resident has 
any fear of them. The Chagres fever affects the 
liver, and brings on depression and general de- 
bility. In a climate without bracing qualities, 
recovery is often so tardy that a trip away is 
best. Indeed it is always well, even for those 
in health to go for a change over seas every 
two or three years if possible; although I once 
remained at Colon five years without serious 

To one of healthy constitution and good hab- 
its there is no danger on the Panama Isthmus, 
that is not present in any other tropical country. 
Cold neglect alone, on the part of those who 
should have cared for the sanitary condition of 


Chapter XXI] 

Colon, has prevented that place from becoming 
as healthful and desirable a home as may be 
found in the whole torrid zone. It is surrounded 
by the sanitary sea; and if the coral island upon 
which it is built were properly drained and 
looked after, there is no reason in the world why 
it should not be a safe and wholesome place of 
residence. (This was written before Colonel 
Gorgas came.) 

Many foreigners have fallen victims to fear 
rather than fever; while many others have 
wrought their own destruction by drink, which 
is the greatest curse of mankind in all lands, but 
more especially in hot countries. It has killed, 
directly and indirectly, more than the entire list 
of diseases put together; for it induces, by its de- 
rangement of the vital forces, every ill to which 
flesh is heir. Candor compels me to state that I 
have tried both abstinence and moderate indul- 
gence; and when it is said that strong drink is 
necessary in the tropics to tone the system up, or 
for any good purpose under heaven, I say em- 
phatically, it is not so ! It is absolutely best to let 
it entirely alone. My forty-six years' experience 
gives me authority to write as I do. 

The " fire habit " should also be mentioned, as 
it lends frequent excitement and emotion to 
Colon life. A round dozen of fires have occurred 



since 1861, the most destructive being that of 
1885, when, in mining phrase, there was a gen- 
eral clean-up. No adequate provision was ever 
made from first to last, for the prompt control of 
these calamities, until very recently. 

An occasional norther has added its spectac- 
ular grandeur to the Isthmian drama. That of 
November, 1862, which I have noted elsewhere, 
will serve as an example. There have been sev- 
eral others of equal or perhaps greater violence 
and destructive power. These storms come on 
suddenly, and sometimes last three or four days. 

Only one earthquake of considerable impor- 
tance has occurred — that of September 7, 1882. 
It came about three o'clock on a calm moonlit 
night when everybody was asleep. The most 
violent shock lasted thirty seconds. People were 
terrified, but no great damage was done. It was 
ascertained later to have been the distant effect 
of a severe earthquake in Venezuela at that same 
moment. Sensational reports were published at 
the time, and the affair was much exaggerated. 
When it was over I went back to bed and slept 
till daylight. Yet it would not be true to say 
that any of these great convulsions could be felt 
without fear. Several lighter shocks have vis- 
ited the Isthmus, but none that caused damage 
or alarm; and the experience of many years has 


Chaffer XXI] 

demonstrated that the region is not within the 
habitual range of these awe-inspiring phenomena. 
There are many reasons why Colon is not a 
dull place to live in. In late years there have 
been at least 500 steamer arrivals each year; and 
as the vessels fly the flags of a dozen differ- 
ent countries, bringing and taking away many 
strange people, as well as much curious merchan- 
dise, if one had no other occupation or amuse- 
ment this could be made an interesting study. 
Winter, with its bitter cold, its suff*ering and dis- 
tress, has never been known; and although some 
of the refinements of what is called the higher 
civilization have been wanting, and social and 
intellectual isolation sometimes felt, yet each 
flame-tinted dawn has been a revelation and 
every moonlit or star-gemmed night a heavenly 




/^UR first home was on the beach, under the 
^~^ palms, within sight and sound of break- 
ers, near the Hghthouse. At night from our win- 
dows the north star could be seen low down 
across the Caribbean. This gave us the first and 
only twinge of homesickness. 

The servant question was solved by the em- 
ployment of Agnes, a young Jamaican — black, 
jolly, and wholly irresponsible. Her laughing 
face and pearl-white perfect teeth were her prin- 
cipal attractions. It was the custom for servants 
to sleep out of the house, an arrangement that 
gave them greater freedom. This girl like others 
of her class insisted on living in that manner, 
and often shocked us with her frank revelations. 
She regarded the marriage tie as a species of 
slavery to which she would by no means submit; 
and we soon learned that her views on the sub- 
ject were generally accepted and put in prac- 
tice by women of her race in the tropics. If they 
do your work they resent interference with their 
morals. For years this woman proved a faith- 


Chapter XXII^ 

ful servant so far as could be expected. Her 
one great virtue was unfailing good-nature, in 
which respect she was superior, though otherwise 
a fair example of her class. 

The next problem was the food question. 
Conditions were new to us. At that time and 
until long after there was no regular market, 
but supplies for daily use had to be picked up 
here and there, in shops or at a street corner, 
where some old black auntie would have a board 
on an empty barrel from which to sell her scanty 
and often stale " truck." 

Market gardening was imknown, nor was 
there an adequate supply of other fresh provi- 
sions — eggs, milk, fresh meat, fish, fruit, or fowl. 
This made it necessary to live a whole lot on 
canned stuff, and to thank Providence for that! 

The fruits of the tropics were attractive, but 
frequently not available. Oranges, bananas, 
plantains, guavas, pineapples, cocoanuts, pa- 
payas, mangoes, alligator pears, bread-fruit, nis- 
pero, chirimoya, star-apple, maranon, mamey- 
sapote, grenadilla, rose-apple, akee, sapucaya, 
tamarind, lime, and a number of others soon be- 
came familiar, but the supply was never abun- 
dant. All, or nearly all, are delicious although 
for the most part not to be compared with our 
northern fruits. 



Small fruits of the berry kind, and all kinds 
of nuts, are almost entirely wanting in the trop- 
ics. The sapucaya is a rare exception. Profes- 
sor Orton gives a short description of this re- 
markable production of nature in his " Andes 
and the Amazon." It is akin to the brazil nut 
and grows on gigantic trees " with branchless 
trunks fifty feet high." These very rich edible 
nuts grow in a large capsule in size and shape 
like a sugar bowl, which has a natural lid or cover. 
" The nuts are richer than the brazil nuts of com- 
merce. As they fall when ripe, the lid drops off 
and the nuts are eaten by monkeys and other wild 
animals, so that few come to market." This tree 
is found in the headwaters of the Rio Trinidad 
that flows into the Chagres. 

No fruit is in more constant use than the lime 
in all hot countries. It is said, however, that its 
immoderate use tends to impoverish the blood 
and to reduce the tone of the system gener- 

The principal food of the colored people con- 
sists of yams, yuca, plantain, and rice. These, 
cooked with salt fish, furnish the standard " bill 
of fare." Fresh fish can always be had for the 
catching, as tropical seas are " full up " of many 

Poultry only needs encouragement to be abun- 

Chapter XXH] 

dant ; yet all these supplies were sporadic, unless 
they were imported. 

Of flowers there were (and are) infinite va- 
rieties, but when all is said, the North need not 
fear the rivalry of the South for floral sweetness 
and beauty, unless it is in comparison with the 
orchid family, some specimens of which are truly 
wonderful. For example, the Isthmian Espiritu 
Santo or Dove-flower, which is one of the most 
exquisite things in nature. It is found only in 
the depths of the jungle, as though it hid away! 

Of insects and reptiles it goes without saying 
that there was (and still is) no lack. They are 
all exceedingly interesting to the naturalist, and 
frequently, on too close acquaintance, to the non- 
naturalist also, but it would become tiresome in 
this place to attempt a detailed catalogue and de- 
scription. They would fill a volume. 

It is well known that the animal kingdom of 
equatorial America has no species of the heroic 
kind — ^no lions, tigers, elephants, or rhinoceri. 
The wild things are neither very large nor very 
fierce, nor very plentiful. Some respectable 
snakes may be found in the Isthmian jungle, and 
various kinds of monkeys, some deer and tiger- 
cats and jaguars (small red so-called lions), also 
sea cows along the coasts; but no "big game." 
It is for the most part a lonely land, as noted in 



the account of Lieutenant Strain and his bewil- 
dered party in a former chapter. 

Birds are more numerous than animals. The 
ornithologist finds many rare kinds, specimens of 
which have been sent away to supply museums 
up and down the world, or to adorn private col- 
lections. The parrot family — including the gem- 
like parrakeet and gorgeous, dreadful, military 
macaw — is very much in evidence. In captivity 
too numerous, perhaps, if peace and quiet are 
desired. But they often become great pets, and 
here is a little history of one in the following 

Bird's Obituary. 

His name was Prettv, and he was about seven 
years old. He had several other names also, such 
as Too-too, Little Mannie, Jewel Birdie, and 

He was only a tiny weeny little bit of a par- 
rakeet. When he was first sent to New York, 
with several others, he was scarcely feathered, 
and it was doubtful if he would stand the voyage. 
But he got there all the same, as the saying is, 
and being so very young and forlorn .was taken 
especial care of by the kindest of hands. He 
was singled out from the rest and made a par- 
ticular pet. It was not long before he began 
to talk a little, and among the first words was 


Chapter XXII} 

" Pretty." From this he was christened, and by 
it was known to a rather wide circle of friends 
and acquaintances. After a while he grew to 
be a perfect jewel in appearance, his color being 
a sort of golden green, with a small tuft of saf- 
fron under his throat, a wealth of gold hidden 
miserlike beneath his wings, and a shade of sien- 
na mixed with the lovely deep emerald of his 
back. When in the sunlight he was indeed like 
a luminous jewel. Not larger than a canary, it 
was all the more wonderful how much the little 
fellow knew. For a long time he did not care 
for anyone except his dear mistress, who had 
been so kind to him when he was a poor friendless 
orphan, far from' the sun-land of his birth, where 
his tribe are called love birds. Of her he became 
exceedingly fond. The sentiment was mutual. 
He went with her to Germany, where he spent 
a long winter, during which he came near going 
the long journey, from the intense cold; but a 
doctor was called, and with care and tender nurs- 
ing he was brought round. Afterwards he came 
back home. In a year or two he was taken a 
second time abroad, when he visited nearly all the 
cities of Europe. Once, at the frontier between 
Austria and Italy, the aduana bandits made a 
great fuss about allowing him to pass, and were 
about to confiscate him. But a heavy duty, 



amounting to two thirds of his original cost, was 
paid for his ransom, and he was allowed to cross 
the Austrian Tyrol into sunny Italy. As it was 
August it was sunny for true! The days were 
hot, but at night in Venice all the world was out 
of doors, strolling up and down the great Plaza 
of St. Mark's, or rowing about the canals in gon- 
dolas and singing love songs. It was there he 
got the name of Booly-bump. To tell that story, 
in a bird's obituary, would perhaps be tiresome, 
but it was a happy reminiscence to his surviving 

All the way along, in railway cars and every- 
where, the little fellow was almost always jolly, 
calling himself over and over '' Pretty birdie " 
and *' Pretty, pretty boy," telling people to 
"Come in!" and enjoying the pleasures of 
travel, such as they are, as much as anybody. 
Nothing pleased him more than going from 
place to place, and seeing as much as a dear little 
pet birdie could of men and women and things 
in general. 

He passed through northern Italy, in sight of 
the ever lovely Lake of Garda, to Milan ; thence 
past Como and Lugano, through the famous St. 
Gothard tunnel, nine dark miles under the Alps, 
into Switzerland ; and thence via Paris and Lon- 
don, back again to New York. He had made 


Chapter XXII^ 

what was once called the grand tour, and ap- 
peared well pleased with the journey. 

He had been more than once in peril. At the 
Hotel Continental in Paris, where private meals 
were served, he was missed one day, after the 
table-cover had been removed. Search was in- 
stantly made, and it is possible that the police 
would have been notified if he had not been found 
unharmed, and apparently enjoying the joke, 
gathered up in the table-cover with the other 
morsels and taken away by the gar9on. 

At another time, left for a moment on the 
seat of a railway coach, he came very near be- 
ing carried off by the wrong train, but was 

Once he was taken to Jamaica, where for sev- 
eral months he enjoyed the proverbial hospital- 
ities of the island, and then returned to the land 
of his birth, greatly to his satisfaction. In fact, 
wherever he went he seemed happy. At this time 
a little mate was given him, and his love affair 
so completely occupied his time and attention 
that an apparent coolness grew up on his part 
toward the dear mistress who had ever been to 
him so kind and faithful. As some poet has said 
he appeared to think, in his simple bird way, that 
" love is enough." That is to say, he grew selfish 
and forgot old obligations in the new bliss. This 



went on for some time until after the great fire 
of September, when the cage that contained the 
pair was among the few things rescued from the 
mad flames; and all was well, until one day the 
little Gem, as she was called — his bright little 
beauty of a mate — was killed by the falling of 
her cage. 

From that hour Pretty was quite changed 
from his old self; for instead of taking anew to 
his dear mistress, to make up for the lost love, 
he switched off and placed his affections on the 
master. It would be interesting to know why he 
did so, but the secret was never divulged. 

A little later he made another long journey, to 
and through southern California, across the Mo- 
have desert, in which he was nearly broiled, over 
the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains to 
Chicago and New York. 

The cunning of the little fellow during that 
journey, in making for himself a small hole in 
the covering of his cage so he could keep a beady 
little round black eye on the proceedings from his 
perch, is well remembered. Also how he would 
lean his small body against the side of his cage 
to steady and rest himself from the motion of the 
train; and how he would cry out if the master 
was a moment away. 

From New York he was brought back to Co- 

Chapter XXII] 

Ion, and it will thus be seen that as a traveler he 
had been quite a notable success. All this time 
it seemed as though his intelligence grew right 
along. Nothing appeared to escape his notice. 
It had long been the custom to take him from his 
cage, which he regarded his castle and defended 
with fierce wrath if interfered with, and to put 
him on the table at meal times, when he would 
take his place at the master's left hand, as regular 
as clockwork, to be fed. He would then roam 
the table over, taking note of and making intel- 
ligent comment, in bird language, about the fare 
provided. If a servant came to touch anything 
he would make a fierce rush to prevent it, and 
would show signs of hot anger. His bite was 
sharp, but could not draw blood. No stranger 
could come in without his alarmed cry. In this 
way he was as good as a watchdog. He was also 
most sympathetic, for whenever the master hap- 
pened to sneeze or cough, day or night, Too-too 
would instantly follow suit in the funniest way. 
It was truly comical. And as for temper, real 
red-hot courage, there was never anything cre- 
ated to beat him. He would have fought a 

Thus seven swift years sped, and this atom of 
life became always more and more endeared. 
More and more his wonderful knowingness be- 



came apparent, until the sad day on which a 
cruel accident took him away. 

Being out of his cage for his matutinal tea 
and toast, as a member of the family, by strange 
ill-fortune he flew into some boiling hot milk, and 
was so injured that no effort could save him. 
For nine hours the brave little heart still beat, 
with now and then a cheery chirp of response 
to anxious care, as if to say — " I'm all right!" 
Nine hours of suffering, and then in the mas- 
ter's hand, against the master's heart, with a 
poor faint last flutter the little life was gone. 

It may be thought silly to make so much of a 
mere pet bird, to wrap it when dead in soft white 
cotton and with an empty cigar box for coffin 
bury it in a tiny grave under the hibiscus tree, 
that will bear scarlet blossoms all the year, and 
with a tear bid it adieu ; but not often is so much 
bright intelligence and beauty and pure affec- 
tion found in any living thing. He was the Bird 
of birds; and if some day, far or near, his dear 
little bird-voice could be heard again saying, 
" Come in! " it would be delightful. And who 


Chapter XXIII^ 


TOURNALISM, on the Isthmus as elsewhere, 
^ has played an important part in the affairs 
of the period under review. Its principal ex- 
ponent has been the Star and Herald, for a long 
time owned and controlled by the brothers Archi- 
bald and James Boyd. 

The first newspaper in English was the Star, 
of which I possess a facsimile of the first issue, 
published on February 24, 1849. A large num- 
ber of gold seekers, bound for California, had 
been detained at Panama ; and nothing was more 
natural than that they must have a newspaper 
to lighten the tedium of their enforced stay. The 
first number, although bearing date of February 
24th, was intended to celebrate Washington's 
birthday; and a portrait of the Father of his 
Country, fairly good, though somewhat resem- 
bling the pictures of the Egyptian sphinx, adorns 
the head of the editorial column. 

The editors and proprietors were J. B. Bidle- 
man & Co., of whom it is impossible to say more, 
as they seem to have disappeared along with the 



other Argonauts, who were " only waiting." The 
Star, however, became a permanency. 

Soon afterwards another paper, called the 
Herald, was started; and about the year 1852 
the two were united under the name Star and 
Herald. Archibald Boardman Boyd and Pey- 
ton Middleton were joint editors and proprietors. 
Later Mr. Middleton retired, and Mr. John 
Power, who died in 1864, was for a time associ- 
ated with Mr. Boyd. Then in April, 1865, 
James Boyd joined his elder brother, and the two 
conducted the business until the sudden death of 
Archibald Boyd, in New York, on September 
19, 1869, at the age of forty-three years. This 
unlooked-for event was widely regretted. It left 
Mr. James Boyd in sole possession, which he re- 
tained until his own lamented death, from small- 
pox, at Panama, on April 23, 1882. 

The paper was then merged in a joint stock 
company, with the sons of Archibald Boyd, 
Frederick, 'Archibald, and Samuel, as the prin- 
cipal shareholders. More recently, Mr. J. Ga- 
briel Duque became owner of the property, and 
has made a new company, which is now under his 
control as managing director. 

Thus is briefly sketched the career of the most 
influential journal ever published on the Isth- 
mus. It has for a long time been printed in Eng- 


Chapter XXIII] 

lish and SpaniKsh, to which for a while French 
was added. 

Archibald and James Boyd were from Ire- 
land, and were men of high standing, personal 
charm, and intellectual force. They both passed 
away in early manhood, leaving behind many 
sorrowing friends. They had been prosperous, 
for before cable days their publications were well 
known and eagerly sought. A leading journal 
called the S panish- American Manual, in a notice 
of Archibald Boyd's death, in 1869, said: 

" These papers count their subscribers by thou- 
sands; and there is not a port from British Co- 
lumbia to San Francisco, from San Francisco 
along the Mexican and Central American coasts 
to Panama, and from Panama along the coasts 
of the several countries south of it, in which the 
name of Boyd is not remembered as the genius 
who made the Star and Herald and La Es- 
trella the medium for the transmission of the 
world's news to the countries lying on the two 
oceans. . . ." 

The foregoing is strictly true. I speak from 
personal knowledge of the aims of the paper, 
as I had the honor to occupy the editorial chair 
of the English part for fifteen months, 1877 to 



1879, under the proprietorship of Mr. James 
OBoyd. He was not himself an editorial writer, 
but as I said in his obituary: " No man knew 
what not to say better than he." I was intimate 
with him, and it gives me pleasure to bear testi- 
mony to the many estimable qualities of his 
mind and character. He, as well as his elder 
brother, was endowed with courage of a high 
order, with intelligence, tact, courtesy, and busi- 
ness ability. 

Nor can I forget my editorial confrere of those 
happy months — Don J. Luciano Duque, who 
had charge of the Spanish part of the paper, and 
with whom my relations were cordial and delight- 
ful. " Time can never lure remembrance " from 
him and his lovable qualities. His premature 
death seemed a cruel stroke. 

Of my friend Crawford Douglas, who was 
connected with the paper for years, I have spoken 
in another place. 

Other papers have been published in English 
in Panama — among them the Chronicle, edited 
by Mr. Isaac Lawton, who afterwards started the 
South Pacific Times at Callao — but they all 

At Colon a half dozen efforts have been made 
to establish the Fourth Estate on a living basis; 
but until Mr. J. W. Humphreys started his Tel- 


Chapter XXIH] 

egram, in February, 1889 (just forty years later 
than the Httle Star of Panama), none were suc- 
cessful. The Telegram still lives, and in 1897 
another paper called the Starlet made its appear- 
ance, imder the patronage of the Star and Her- 
ald of Panama. They are both triweekly, and 
are regarded with favor. Another, the Inde- 
pendent, has been recently added. 

The growth of literature among the Isthmian 
foreign colony has been retarded by a malady 
that may be called intellectual ophthalmia. The 
main chance having been the principal aim and 
object, nothing could be more natural than the 
absence of literary taste, ambition, or apprecia- 

A few writers have made valuable contribu- 
tions to local historical and descriptive literature : 
Dr. Robert Tomes, in 1855; C. T. Bidwell, in 
1865; Dr. Berthold Seeman, in 1867; Dr. F. N. 
Otis, in 1867; and Dr. Wolf red Nelson, in 1888; 
but they were nonresident, or as in the case of 
Mr. Bidwell and Dr. Nelson, did not remain 
many years. 

James Stanley Gilbert, whose death in 1906 
was widely lamented, published a book of poems 
with the title, " Panama Patchwork," which 
reached a third edition, and was highly appreci- 
ated. He also contributed charming verse to 



periodical literature. Mr. Gilbert was gifted 
with intellectual wealth and with a rare genius 
for friendship. He has been called the Isthmian 

Mr. Michael Delevante also produced two vol- 
umes of poems which have met with appreciation. 
But as a general thing, the muse of the stylus 
has fought shy of the Isthmus. 

Several brave attempts have been made to 
establish clubs of a social-literary-dramatic kind; 
yet until 1907, when the Y. M. C. A. came to 
the Canal zone, failure has been their sad un- 
varying lot. 

But books, the hoarded gold of other minds, 
have found their way hither, and have said in 
their silent impressive way to the minority: 

"Thou art not all unfriended!" 

With books to the fore, one may bid the bick- 
ering world go hang ! 

Few of the ephemerae of the daily press can 
be rescued from the capacious storehouse of ob- 
livion. Perhaps they scarcely deserve to be. 
They are like a blown-out candle flame. My own 
editorial work on the Star and Herald, though 
conscientiously performed, now seems as if " writ 
in water." One theme, however, upon which I 
have been prone to dilate, has not, in my estima- 


Chapter XXIII^ 

tion, grown old with the lapse of time. It is the 
Futui^e Possibilities of the Tropics. It has 
seemed to me, and the conviction has grown 
stronger every year, that we have but faintly be- 
gun to apprehend the importance of the " hot 
countries " in the designs of destiny. I need not 
enter upon an argument in regard to the zone 
theory of biology, nor try to disprove the state- 
ments of writers who, in my opinion, have taken 
partial views. It is a pet idea in the United 
States and Europe that nothing of the first class 
— at any rate, of an intellectual nature — ever 
came, or ever will or can come from the equa- 
torial regions of our earth. But never is a long 
time; and the fact that the realms where winter 
reigns for half the year have had a monopoly of 
intellectual products in the past is no reason in 
itself why it will always be so. The same may 
be said in regard to material welfare, which is 
the basis of civil society. The fact that the civ- 
ilization of the past has had its principal develop- 
ment north of the Tropic of Cancer does not fur- 
nish a final argument that it must continue so 

For the present, and probably for a century to 
come, the United States will provide its increas- 
ing millions with their heart's desire in all that 
relates to material prosperity and comfort; but 



there must be a limit. The conquest, begun when 
the Pilgrims landed in 1620, will one day be com- 
plete. The marvel of it! A continent overrun 
and redeemed from barbarism in so short a time ! 
The rapid pace has been almost hysterical. Mi- 
gration westward has been in reality at railroad 
speed. According to the careful estimate of 
Prof. Lewis M. Haupt, it will require only a 
little time to fill up the gaps ; and when the census 
that will be taken in 1950 shows a population of 
nearly 239,000,000, the question will be asked (if 
not before) : Where are we to go now? 

In August, 1880, I contributed the following 
to the Star and Herald: 


" On October 24, 1877, under the above head- 
ing, these columns contained some editorial re- 
marks from which we copy as follows: 

" ' It is well known that upon the northern 
portion of the Western Hemisphere, during the 
last two hundred and fifty years, the human 
stream has been steadily setting with tremendous 
volume westward. From Plymouth Rock as a 
starting point, all the long distance to the Golden 
Gate, the flow has been rapid and continuous, 
until the whole vast region has been occupied by 


Chapter XXIII} 

a new race drawn from the older sources. It 
would not be true to state that there is no room 
yet left for the expanding volume of the advanc- 
ing stream ; but it is certain that with the Pacific 
shores the goal of direct advance has been 
reached, and after a pause of greater or lesser 
duration, a great bend in the current must occur. 
And since the natural course lies only in one di- 
rection, and that to the southward, it must be only 
a question of time until Go South! will be as 
potent a watchword as the magical Westward 
Ho! has been in the past. Every year will wit- 
ness more and more of those who, for purposes 
of various kinds, will turn their faces to the south, 
and never rest satisfied until they are established, 
for weal or woe, in these lands loved of the sun. 
In this manner the slow revolution of time will 
bring its changes, and millions will dwell in peace 
and prosperity in the tropics where now the 
jungle prevails.' 

" These thoughts upon the future flow of pop- 
ulation are now recalled by reading a very in- 
teresting paper on ' The Western Man,' by 
Charles Dudley Warner, in the current number 
of Scribners Monthly (October, 1880). That 
close reasoner says : ' The Western Man, you per- 
ceive, has reached his limit. For the first time in 
the history of the world, he has come to a place 



where he must stay his march, where he must rest. 
He has nowhere else to go! ' 

" Has not Mr. Warner fixed his usually dis- 
criminating gaze so intently upon the setting sim 
that he has lost sight of the whole magnificent 
Southern Continent? He seems to have over- 
looked a realm wider, grander, and of more un- 
limited possibilities for the future of his Western 
Man than has ever yet been occupied by that bold 
pioneer. A mighty bend in the stream of west- 
ern civilization will occur, is already occurring, 
toward the south. In less than a thousand years 
from the present time, we venture to say, could 
we revisit the scenes of earth, we should see the 
wonderful activities of these same Western Men 
displayed in the central and southern portions of 
the continent. It will be only a question of time. 
These beautiful and productive regions will lure 
great masses and multitudes of men. There will 
be no need of haste or worry. These great 
changes must be the slow work of many genera- 
tions, but they are inevitable. 

" If the Western Man of the present has prac- 
tically ceased to exist, because he has nowhere 
else to go, let him simply face about toward the 
South, and he will discover a world richer far 
than he has ever possessed or dreamed of. His 
mission will not be ended, or at least the possi- 


Chapter XXIII] 

bilities before him will never be fully exhausted, 
until the Andes and the Amazon become as fa- 
miliar as are now the Rocky Mountains and the 
Mississippi. His destiny will lead him from the 
colder and more inhospitable North ; and in ages 
to come, another and more perfect and enduring 
Eden will be found by his descendants, within 
the gorgeous Belt of Palms." 

Thirty years have passed since the foregoing 
was written; and the conviction has been con- 
stantly strengthened that the tropics have been 
set apart for great things. It seems to me that 
Design may be clearly traced in this tendency. 
The evolution of mankind toward a higher des- 
tiny is involved. Certainly these magnificent 
countries, in which every possibility exists, have 
not been created and so richly endowed in vain. 

In the New York Sun of March 24, 1895, in 
answer to the question : " Is this the Utopia of the 
Future? " Mr. John R. Spears writes from the 
Panama Isthmus : 

" Bates, author of ' The Naturalist on the Am- 
azons,' concludes his story by saying : ' For I 
hold the opinion that although humanity can 
reach an advanced state of culture only by bat- 
tling with the inclemencies of Nature in high lat- 
itudes, it is under the equator alone that the per- 



feet raee of the future will attain to complete 
fruition.' " 

Mr. Spears adds: *' Some time people will be- 
gin to see that life where all one's days must be 
devoted to the mad scramble for money is a life 
not worth living. They will see that a life where 
a brief time only is needed to provide food and 
raiment, and much time remains for cultivating 
the intellect, is better. They will see that this 
is the ideal life, and will adopt it. This kind of 
life might be found in the tropics now. The 
people of the tropics do not lead such a life ; they 
pass their spare time in idleness or the pursuit 
of sensual joys, until ennuyed to desperation they 
kick up a revolution. But if the people of the 
temperate regions, who are weary of their strife 
for a mere living, could realize the possibilities 
that await them on the highlands that extend 
from Chiriqui on the Isthmus to the State of 
Oaxaca in Mexico, I fancy they would flock 
there in such numbers as to wipe out the traces 
of barbarism that still remain there, and bring to 
pass the condition of affairs which Bates fore- 

Another and greater writer, Benjamin Kidd, 
in his " Social Evolution," says in regard to the 
same subject, " with the filling up to the full 
limit the remaining territories suitable for Eu- 


Chapter XXIII} 

ropean occupation, and the growing pressure of 
population therein, it may be expected that the 
inexpediency of allowing a great extent of ter- 
ritory in the richest region of the globe — that 
comprised within the tropics — to remain unde- 
veloped, with its resources running largely to 
waste under the management of races of low so- 
cial efficiency, will be brought home with ever- 
growing force to the minds of the Western 
(Northern?) peoples. The day is probably not 
far distant when, with the advance science is mak- 
ing, we shall recognize that it is in the tropics, 
and not in the temperate zones that we have the 
greatest food-producing and material-producing 
regions of the earth; that the natural highways 
of commerce in the world are those which run 
north and south; and that we have the highest 
possible interest in the proper development and 
efficient administration of the tropical regions, 
and in an exchange of products therewith on a 
far larger scale than has yet been attempted or 
imagined. . . . 

" It will probably be made clear, and that at 
no distant date, that the last thing our civiliza- 
tion is likely to permanently tolerate is the wast- 
ing of the resources of the richest regions of the 
earth through lack of the elementary qualities of 
social efficiency in the races possessing them." 



The " energetic races " already recognize " the 
immense future importance of the tropical re- 
gions of the earth," and while the movement will 
be leisurely, it will at the same time be sure. 

The former idea that the white race cannot 
safely venture within the hot countries, with a 
view to permanent residence, is already exploded. 
If the laws of health are observed, there is no 
more danger here than elsewhere. And if per- 
mitted to indulge in prophecy, I would say that 
it seems as clear as anything in the dim future 
can seem, that these lands have been reserved by 
Destiny, for the final flowering of the human 
tree. Since nothing appears to have been cre- 
ated in vain, the time will come when the wild 
region now included within the limits of the Pan- 
ama Isthmus, as well as those immense solitudes 
north and south, shall be transformed into smil- 
ing summer lands where countless millions will 
find homes. 

Prof. James Orton says, in his " Andes and 
the Amazon " : " In South America Nature has 
framed her works on a gigantic scale. Where 
else combined do we see such a series of tower- 
ing mountains, such a volume of river water, 
and such wide-spreading plains? We have no 
proper conception of Andean grandeur till we 
learn that the top of the tallest moimtain in 


Chapter XXIII] 

North America is nearly a mile beneath the dome 
of Chimborazo, nor any just view of the vast 
dimensions of the Amazonian Valley until we 
find that all the United States could be packed 
in it without touching its boundaries; nor any 
adequate idea of the Amazon itself, till we ascer- 
tain that it drains 1,000,000 square miles more 
than the Mississippi." 

Similar quotations might be indefinitely multi- 
plied, all going to show the magnificence of the 
equatorial inheritance that in the American hemi- 
sphere alone, awaits the white race. The acqui- 
sition of Porto Rico, Hawaii, the Philippines and 
Canal Zone has widened the outlook; and as sci- 
ence reveals her secrets more and more — espe- 
cially when social science — ^the art of living — 
shall become known to all, there will be a tropical 
civilization so ideal that fancy falters in its con- 

The question of race, which now perplexes and 
lends a somber color to the vista, will, like all 
things else, be solved by the evolutionary forces 
that have brought humanity thus far on its way. 
And when we of to-day have been long gone into 
the Great Unknown, with perhaps, as many be- 
lieve, the power of return given us, there may 
come a time when even we shall behold the 
splendor of this vision fulfilled. 





{November, 1907) 

nnHE preceding record does not pretend to 
cover the period, subsequent to November 
3, 1903, the date of the Independence of Panama. 
All that has followed forms intensely interesting 
history, and will doubtless find a competent his- 

The events that led up to that crisis may, how- 
ever, be briefly sketched as follows : 

In July, 1900, the two political parties of Co- 
lombia, called Conservatives and Liberals, rep- 
resenting respectively the Bogota Government 
and the element of discontent in the republic, 
were engaged in a bloody civil war. Panama 
being a part of Colombia at the time, battles 
were fought at that city and along the line of 
railroad to Colon. 

The Government of the United States was 
called on, under the treaty of 1846, to interpose. 
At last peace was secured through this friendly 


PLAZA, FEBRUARY 20. 1904. 

Chapter XXIV] 

intervention, the so-called Conservatives being 
successful in putting down the Liberals. General 
Carlos Alban, who had become Governor of Pan- 
ama, had been killed on board the steamship 
Lautaro, during a fight in Panama Bay, Jan- 
uary 29, 1902, and General Victor Salazar had 
succeeded him as governor, on March 4th. The 
latter was soon replaced by Don Fecundo Mutis 
Duran, who in turn retired on the appointment 
of the patriotic senator, Don Jose Domingo de 
Obaldia, in October, 1903. He was the last to 
hold the office of Governor of Panama under the 
Republic of Colombia. After peace had been 
patched up, negotiations were commenced and 
carried forward between Washington and Bo- 
gota, until a canal treaty had been concluded by 
the representatives of the two nations. This 
covenant, known as the Hay-Herran treaty, was 
ratified without amendment by the United States 
Senate, March 17, 1903. It then lacked only the 
approval of Colombia. After months of uncer- 
tainty, that approval was refused. 

Warnings without number had been given the 
Bogota Government that Panama would with- 
draw from the Colombian Union, unless the con- 
struction of a canal should be provided for. 
These warnings were unheeded. 

Then on November 3, 1903, under the lead- 


ership of Dr. Manuel Amador Guerrero and 
a few associates, prominent among whom were 
Frederico Boyd, Jose Augustin Arango, Tomas 
Arias, Manuel Espinosa, Dr. Esprilla, and Dr. 
Eusebio Morales at Panama, and indispensable 
Governor Porfirio Melendez, at Colon, the De- 
partment of Panama declared itself independent 
of Colombia. 

Events followed in rapid succession, and with- 
in a week the Republic of Panama, with a well- 
organized de facto government under the pro- 
tection of the United States, had been securely 
established. A bloodless revolution had been suc- 

The details would afford material for a won- 
der story. 

Thereafter all has been plain sailing. A 
treaty that provided for opening the Panama 
Canal, was immediately made and signed, called 
the Hay-Buneau-Varilla treaty, and promptly 
ratified by both governments. The great work 
is well under way. 

It is to be regretted that sea level has not been 
adopted, as recommended by a large majority of 
the eminent engineers who were called on to ex- 
amine the canal route and give their opinion, 
which it is perhaps not yet too late to follow. At 
sea level a channel once opened could be eventu- 


Chapter XXIV] 

ally made into a wide, deep, open, splendid water- 
way from ocean to ocean, that for all time would 
be a veritable Straits of Panama. Considera- 
tions of time and cost ought not to mar the 
sublime conception. But in any event, in spite 
of every obstacle and of every mistake, let us 
thank Heaven that there can he no longer a 
lingering doubt that 


Note. — ^The International Advisory Board of Engineers who 
examined the Panama Canal in October, 1905, and decided 
almost unanimously in favor of sea-level, were: 

Major-General George W. Davis, U. S. A., Chairman. 
Captain John C. Oakes, U. S. A. Corps of Engineers, Secretary. 
Brigadier-General Henry L. Abbott, U. S. A., retired. 
Adolph Guerard, Inspector-General of Public Works, France. 
Edouard M. Quellenec, Consulting Engineer Suez Canal, etc. 
Henry Hunter, Engineer of Manchester Canal, England. 
Herr Eugene Tincauser, Engineer on the Kiel Canal, 

J. W. Welcker, Engineer Dyke System, Holland. 
IsHAM Randolph, Chief Engineer Chicago Drainage Canal. 
Frederick P. Stearns, Hydraulic Engineer, Boston. 
Prof. William H. Burr, Consulting Engineer, New York. 
Joseph Ripley, Chief Engineer Sault Ste. Marie Canal. 
Alfred Noble, Chief of Pennsylvania Railroad Improvements, 

New York City. 
William B. Parsons, Chief Engineer Subway System, New 






In New York 

David Hoadley President. 

Joseph F. Joy Secretary. 

Henry Smith Treasurer. 

John Keeler Chief Accountant and Head 


On the Isthmus 

Colonel George M. Totten. Chief Engineer. 

William Parker Superintendent. 

Charles F. Stedman Fiscal and Shipping Agent. 

William Nelson Commercial Agent at Pan- 

E. D. Dennis . . , General Freight and Ticket 


Perez Turner Assistant Engineer. 

D. H. GuYON ) 

^ ^ „^ > Paymasters. 

J. P. Woodbury ( ^ 

W. T. White, M.D Surgeon at AspinwalL 

J. P. Kluge, M.D Surgeon at Panama. 

John Wilson Commissary. 




John F. Bateman Master Mechanic. 

George Wardle Freight Agent at Aspinwall. 

Fred Ansoategue ........... Freight Agent at Panama. 

P. P. Pacheco Attorney. 

' ' y Conductors. 

W. Thomson ) 




1. A. J. Center 1852-1860, 8 years. 

2. William Parker 1860-1868, 8 " 

3. E. C. Du Bois 1868-1872, 4 " 

4. A. J. Center (2d term) 1872-1874, 2 " 

D. M. CorwineI 

Frank White L 1874-1876, 2 " 

^AND Others J 

6. Brandon Mozley 1876-1880, 4 " 

7. H. A. Woods 1880-1883, 3 " 

8. J. J. Iribe in 1883, 0.5 " 

9. G. A. Burt 1884-1885, 1.5 " 

10. F. G. Ward 1886-1887, 1.5 " 

11. A. L. Rives 1887-1895, 8.5 " 

12. J. R. Shaler 1895-1903, 8 " 

13. H. G. PrescottI 

14. W. G. BiERD 1 1903-1907, 4 " 

15. H. J. Slifer J 

55 years. 




1. JusTO Arosemena, Supreme Chief and Governor of 

the State, from July 16 to October 3, 1855. 

2. Francisco de Fabrega, entrusted with the Executive 

Power, October 4, 1855 to September 30, 1856. 

3. Bartolome Calvo, Governor of the State, October 1, 

1856 to May 6, 1858. 

4. Ramon Gamboa, entrusted with the Executive Power, 

May 7 to September 30, 1858. 

5. Rafael Nunez, entrusted with the Executive Power, 

October 1 to November 1, 1858. 

6. Jose de Obaldia, Governor of the State, November 

2, 1858 to September 30, 1860. 

7. Santiago de la Guardia, Governor of the State, 

October 1, 1860 to July 25, 1862. 

8. Manuel Maria Diaz, Provisional Governor, July 

26, 1862 to July 5, 1863. 

9. Pedro Goitia, entrusted with the Executive Power, 

July 6 to August 12, 1863. 

10. Peregrino Santacoloma, President of the State, 

August 13, 1863 to October 16, 1864. 

11. Leonardo Calancha, entrusted with the Executive 

Power, October 17, 1864 to March 9, 1865. 

12. JiL Colunje, Provisional President, March 10, 1865 

to September 30, 1866. 

13. Vicente Olarte G., Governor of the State, October 

1, 1866 to February 3, 1868. 

14. Juan Jose Diaz, entrusted with the Executive Power, 

February 4 to July 4, 1868. 


15. Fernando Ponce, Provisional President, July 5 to 

August 31, 1868. 

16. Buenaventura Correoso, Provisional and Con- 

stitutional President, September 1, 1868 to 
August 16, 1871. 

17. Juan Mendosa, entrusted with the Executive Power, 

August 16 to September 30, 1871; and June 16 to 
August 28, 1872. 

18. Gabriel Neira, President of the State, October 1, 

1872 to November 14, 1873. 

19. Gregorio Miro, Constitutional President, November 

16, 1873 to September 20, 1875. 

20. Pablo Arosemena, President of the State, October 1 

to October 11, 1875. 

21. Rafael Aizpuru, Provisional and Constitutional 

President, October 12, 1875 to December 31, 1877. 

22. Buenaventura Correoso, President of the State, 

January 1 to December 28, 1878. 

23. RiCARDO Casorla, entrusted with the Executive 

Power, December 29, 1878 to June 1, 1879. 

24. Gerardo Ortega, entrusted with the Executive 

Power, June 8 to December 31, 1879. 

25. Damaso Cervera, President of the State, January 1, 

1880 to March 14, 1883; and May 1, 1883 to 
November 26, 1884. 

26. Jose Maria Vives Leon, entrusted with the Executive 

Power, March 15 to April 30, 1883; and November 
27, 1884 to January 7, 1885. 

27. Ramon Santo Domingo Vila, President of the State, 

January 7 to February 16, 1885. 


28. Pablo Arosemena, entrusted with the Executive 

Power, February 16 to March 31, 1885. 

29. Miguel Montoya, Civil and MiHtary Chief, May 1, 

1885 to February 14, 1886. 

30. Ramon Santo Domingo Vila, Civil and Military 

Govern or p February 15 to July 5, 1886. 

31. Manuel Amador Guerrero, entrusted with the 

Civil and Military Government, June 5 to June 25, 

32. Alejandro Posada, Governor of the Department, 

June 26, 1886 to July 22, 1887; and January 21 to 
March 9, 1888. 

33. Juan V. Aycardi, Interim Governor, July 23, 1887 

to January 20, 1888; and Governor of the Depart- 
ment, March 9, 1888 to August 31, 1893. 

34. RiCARDO Arango, Governor of the Department, 

September 1, 1893, to his death, October 8, 1898. 

35. Facundo Mutis-Duran, Governor of the Depart- 

ment, October 9, 1898 to end of 1899. 

36. Campo Serrano, Governor, January 2, 1900. 

37. Carlos Alban, 

38. General Salazar, 

39. Facundo Mutis Duran, 

40. Jose Domingo de Obaldia, 


Senor Obaldia was the last Governor of Panama 
under the Republic of Colombia. At this date 
(November, 1907) he is Acting President of the 
Republic of Panama, in the absence in the United 
States and Europe, of President Amador Gue- 






in 1889 216,528 bunches. 

In 1890 264,295 

In 1891 320,710 

In 1892 397,881 

In 1893 408,000 

In 1894 420,000 

In 1895 425,000 

In 1896 304,200 

In 1897 325,066 

In 1898 319,465 

In 1899 333,867 

Total 3,735,012 

Banana culture has gradually declined since 1899 on 
the Isthmus, until shipments have been nearly suspended. 


1. Benjamin A. Bidlack, Pennsylvania, Charge d' Af- 

faires, May 14, 1845. 

2. Thomas M. Foote, New York, Charge d' Affaires, 

May 29, 1849, 

3. Selverton p. King, Georgia, Charge d' Affaires, 

March 12, 1851. 



4. James S. Green, Missouri, Charge d' Affaires, May 

24, 1853. 

5. James S. Green, Missouri (Credentials not presented). 

Minister Resident, June 29, 1854. 

6. James B. Bowlin, Missouri, Minister Resident, 

December 13, 1854. 

7. George W. Jones, Iowa, Minister Resident, March 

8, 1859. 

8. Allen A. Burton, Kentucky, Minister Resident, 

May 29, 1861. 

9. James H. Campbell, Pennsylvania (Declined), Minis- 

ter Resident, November 16, 1866. 

10. Peter J. Sullivan, Ohio, Minister Resident, March 

19, 1867. 

11. Stephen A. Hurlbut, Illinois, Minister Resident, 

April 22, 1869. 

12. William L. Scruggs, Georgia, Minister Resident, 

April 9, 1873. 
(Legation vacant for years.) 

13. Ernest Dichman, Wisconsin, Minister Resident, 

June 15, 1878. 

14. George Maney, Tennessee, Minister Resident, May 

19, 1881. 

15. William L. Scruggs, Georgia, Minister Resident, 

April 17, 1882. 

16. William I^. Scruggs, Georgia, Envoy Ex. and Minister 

Plen., July 7, 1884. 

17. Charles D. Jacob, Kentucky, Envoy Ex. and Minis- 

ter Plen., October 9, 1885. 

18. D. H. Maury, Virginia, Envoy Ex. and Minister 

Plen., October 18, 1886. 


19. John T. Abbott, New Hampshire, Envoy Ex. and 

Minister Plen., April 1, 1889. 

20. L. F. McKiNNEY, New Hampshire, Envoy Ex. and 

Minister Plen., April 24, 1893. 

21. Charles Burdett Hart, West Virginia, Envoy Ex. 

and Minister Plen., May 27, 1897. 

22. Arthur M. Beaupre, February 12, 1903, to March 

17, 1904. 

23. William W. Russell, March 17, 1904, to June 21, 


24. John Barrett, June 21, 1905, to January 9, 1907. 

25. Thomas C. Dawson, January 10, 1907 — the present 

Minister, November, 1907. 


1. Wm. I. Buchanan, 1903. 

2. Wm. W. Russell, 1904. 

3. John Barrett, 1905. 

4. Charles E. Magoon, 1905. 

5. H. G. Squiers, 1906. 

(The last named is still Minister, November, 1907.) 


1. William Nelson, Kentucky, Consul, July 16, 1845. 

2. Amos B. Corwine, Ohio, Consul, October 18, 1849. 

3. Thomas B. Ward, Texas, Consul, May 24, 1853. 



4. Amos B. Corwine, Ohio, Consul, August 16, 1856. 

5. Alex. R. McKee, Kentucky, Consul, May 15, 1861. 

6. William B. Little, Nevada, Consul, October 3, 1865. 

7. O. M. Long, Texas, Consul, April 7, 1869. 

8. John M. Wilson, Ohio, Consul, April 3, 1879. 

*9. William L. Scruggs, Georgia, Consul, March 13, 

10. Thomas Adamson, Pennsylvania, Consul, April 17, 


11. Thomas Adamson, Pennsylvania, Consul General, 

August 1, 1884. 

12. Victor Vifquain, Nebraska, Consul General, April 

20, 1893. 

13. Hezekiah a. Gudger, North Carolina, Consul 

General, July 29, 1897. 

14. Joseph W. Lee, Consul General, 1905. 

15. Arnold Shanklin, Kansas, Consul General, 1907. 


1. Henry Munro, New York, Consul, May 5, 1852. 

2. George W. Fletcher, Alabama, Consul, July 23, 


3. Charles J. Fox, Michigan, Consul, August 31, 1857. 

4. Daniel A. Robinson, Michigan, Consul, November 

7, 1860. 

5. F. W. Rice, California, Consul, January 14, 1861. 

6. Charles E. Perry, New York, Consul, April 16, 


* Mr. Scruggs did not serve. 



7. James Thorington, Iowa, Consul, January 21, 1873. 

8. James Thorington, Iowa, Commercial Agent, May 

27, 1873. 

9. F. W. Rice, Maine, Consul, August 7, 1882.. 

10. R. K. Wright, Jr., Pennsylvania, Consul, Septem- 

ber 17, 1884. 

11. Victor Vifquain, Nebraska, Consul, October 25, 


12. W. E. Sims, Virginia, Consul, August 22, 1890. 
*13. Charles W. Erdman, Kentucky, Consul, August 13, 


14. W. W. AsHBY, Virginia, Consul, May 3, 1892. 

15. J. L. Pearcey, Tennessee, Consul, October 10, 1893. 

16. W. W. AsHBY, Virginia, Consul. Second term. 

17. W. W. CoBBS, Virginia, Consul, March 4, 1898. 

18. Oscar Malmros, 1903. 

19. (Dr. Kellogg, the present Consul, followed Mr. 



William Perry, Consul, 1850. 

Charles Henderson, Consul, 1860-1868. 

Charles Wilthew, Consul, 1868-1873. 

Captain Hugh Mallet, Consul, 1873-1879. 

James Reginald Graham, Consul (appointed in 1880, 

but did not proceed). 
Edward Bernard March, Consul, 1880-1885. 
Henry George Kennedy, Consul (appointed but did 

not proceed). 
Colonel James Hayes Sadler, Consul, 1885. 
* Charles W. Erdman did not serve. 



George Frederick Nicholas Beresford Annesly, 

Consul, 1886. 
Lewis Joel, Consul General, 1889. 
Claude Coventry Mallet, Consul, April 1, 1891 (until 

appointed Minister, 1907). 

Note.— Claude C. Mallet, Courtenay W. Bennett, and Fred P. 
Leay served as British Vice-Consuls at Panama. The first of these 
remarkable men is now British Minister at Panama, and the other two 
are Consuls General, at New York and Valparaiso, respectively. 

Condensed Statement of Five Years Prior to 1895 

1890 152.75 inches. 

1891 124.75 " 

1892 145.03 " 

1893 131.90 " 

1894 153.76 " 

January. . , 





August — 













































































Average for the ten years, 1890-1899, 138.0 inches.